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Non‐violence seeks to oppose the use of state violence by means such as peaceful demonstrations, sit‐ins, civil disobedience, and so forth. It is a political strategy of opposition best known as adopted by Gandhi in the Indian national movement. Gandhi insisted on the absolute nature of non‐violence—there is no half‐way house in a non‐violent movement. This was because non‐violence was regarded by Gandhi as a moral force, and hence could not be seen to be compromised in any way. His withdrawal from the first national non‐cooperation movement in 1921 after the burning down of a police station at Chauri Chaura was on the grounds that there can be no exceptions to the rule of non‐violence at any level. Many political leaders have been inspired by Gandhi in adopting non‐violence as a form of political protest, the best known being the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King. See also Quakers; civil disobedience.

Shirin Rai


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