ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Interweaving Violence and Non-violence

Violence and Non-Violence across Time: History, Religion and Culture edited by Sudhir Chandra, South Asia Edition, New York: Routledge, 2018; pp 314, ₹ 1,095 (hardbound).


We live in a hopeless violent time and crave non-violence. We have tried to understand human violence since the time familial and social violence began, but our understanding of violence has failed to produce a non-violent world. In the process of understanding the binary of violence and non-violence, we often confuse non-violence with peace. Philosophically speaking, non-violence is a necessary condition of peace, but, is it a sufficient condition as well? The modern world has produced Adolf Hitler and M K Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Idi Amin, the Ku Klux Klan and Martin Luther King simultaneously. Systems produce different men, and then, men produce different systems. Sudhir Chandra’s admirable attempt to refresh and improve our study of violence and non-violence must be read in this context. Is non-violence enough or even desirable to create a new world based on peace? Is non-violence always possible? These are the ontological questions of our being today because violence is both individual and systemic. Unless it is addressed at the level of individuals and structures both, there is little point in researching it. Further, notice is to be taken of the fact that individual and communitarian violence are intertwined with social formations which produce them. In this sense all violence is ultimately structural violence.

The objective of this timely volume of collected essays, written by scholars in pursuit of diverse perspectives on the subject of violence and non-violence, is to arrive at a philosophical understanding of violence. After all, as the editor of this volume would have us believe, upon our understanding of violence in time and space depends our chances of rescuing humanity from the curse of violence. Violence began when humanity divorced itself from nature. This divorce in “human history has been a force for good as well as evil” (p x). Civilisation would have been impossible if humans had remained enslaved to nature. But civilisation, as Marx held, also produced social inequality and, thereby, “structural” violence.

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Updated On : 2nd Aug, 2019
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