The two movements emerge in response to modern Imperialism and Colonialism: the non-violent, non-aggressive movement inspired by the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. , and the more violent movements such as The Nation of Islam led by Malcolm X. Both movements criticise present-day world order, proclaiming that it needs to be changed, but differ in the ways they propose for this change. The pacifist movement, from the present perspective, has been more successful in gaining world recognition than the violent resistance ideas. Mahatma Gandhi’s Pacifist Movement
One of the prominent leaders of the pacifist movement was Mahatma Gandhi who derived his ideas from Bhagavad Gita, Hinduism, Jain beliefs and the Christian ideas interpreted by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. He introduced the notion of ahimsa that can be translated as ‘non-violence’ that had been numerous times discussed in Indian literary and religious works. This principle was followed to the core, as Gandhi called on the people of the United Kingdom to lay their arms and to open their land to the aggression of the Nazi Germany, deeming that armed response to aggression was not warranted.
Gandhi’s methods of struggle included the imposition of the boycott on foreign-made goods, especially those that were manufactured in Britain. This boycott was later transferred to British institutions such as courts. Other measures against the British rule included the refusal to pay taxes that go to the government, the tactic to boycott government actions and not to work for the government. People were instructed to give up English titles and honors they have received from the British government.
Gandhi incorporated women in his movement at the time when any political activity in India excluded them deeming that politics was not an appropriate occupation for a woman. Martin Luther King Jr’s Movement Martin Luther King Jr, decades after he died, remains one of the prominent leaders of the Afro-American people and the one whose contribution as a single person to the cause of the liberation of the Afro-American people from the oppression of the white society was perhaps the greatest.
He did not achieve this through armed riots, but through the peaceful demonstrations of protest. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 was the most vivid episode of his career as a political leader, and his speech “I have a dream” is much more to any American citizen than a textbook story. Through their peaceful actions, King’s supporters were able to garner the respect of the American people who now view King and his activities as the most revered. Martin Luther King did not give in to calls for a more radical action coming from some of the other activists.
Perhaps this was the main reason why King and others were able to bring their ideas to the majority of the US citizens and make them realize that segregation and other forms of the discrimination of Afro-Americans were unjust and unlawful. A massive march of public protest left the administration and officials without any moral ground to chastise the protestants. If they had chosen instead to oppose the police with arms, the government would have a legal claim against them, and most people in the US would agree that they are confronting a mob of gangsters, rather than political fighters against oppression.
As it happened, however, the pacifist movement was able to win the support of many common Americans, which ensured its effectiveness. The aborted march attempt on March 7, 1965, was a clear manifestation of the extent to which non-violence was in danger of being overcome with violence. An event occurred that could indeed have given rise to a full-scale revolution: the march was stopped by the police’s violent actions. However, the police violence did not transform into violence by the activists. Instead, the march was stopped by Martin Luther King Jr.
himself as they tried to continue on March 9. As it turned out, the march was merely delayed by King to be later resumed on March 25 in agreement with President Johnson. This allowed the activists to conduct the march on a much stronger political footing: the action was still peaceful, the activists were regarded by the public opinion as martyrs, and they had the president’s support at that. Malcolm X: Approval of Violence Malcolm X was the famous leader of Nation of Islam who also founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc. , and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
He started out as a street gangster but later turned in to one of the most significant leaders of Black Nationalist movement. Malcolm, similarly to Martin Luther King and other leaders of the Afro-American movment, opposed slavery and believed it to be one of the greatest misfortunes. But the method he chose to oppose it differed as he believed violence to have a cleansing effect that removes a person from the condition of slavery. Malcolm explained that to strike out at someone thus initiating violence was wrong.
In contrast, self-defence was completely warranted, and the Afro-Americans should retain the right to defend themselves if they were attacked. Malcolm did not approve of the March on Washington in 1963, as he said that the movement was inspired by the whites and he did not understand the reason for public exhilaration. In his views, Malcolm X was influenced by Frantz Fanon, a renowned author of works on national liberation movements who called for a violent action that would liberate the oppressed and allow them to clean themselves from slavery.
These ideas had impact on the Third Cinema created in developing nations. Fanon’s ideas were accepted by many to be an invitation to violent action. It cannot be said that Malcolm X or Fanon are directly responsible for any violence, but their calls aggravated the danger of a bloody rebellion in the world that is without that too prone to armed conflicts. Their calls to active fight against oppression undoubtedly influenced the oppressed nations of the world, teaching them that violence cannot be escaped in the fight for power.
Besides, calls for violence diverted the public support from such groups. Thus, Malcolm made a callous remark about President Kennedy’s assassination, a saying that led to a storm of public indignation and caused the Nation of Islam, his own organization to censure his behaviour. It can be assumed that approval of the cruel murder of a popular President hardly added popularity to Malcolm’s personality.