Updated: Oct 27
By Gokul Nair, Global Federal League
It is ironic how the usage of the term “passive resistance” in an article that will touch upon the necessity of peaceful protest as a means to create a world federation defeats the very purpose of this essay, for the label was coined primarily to give it the impression of being the “weapon of the weak” (Passive Resistance, 2018). Gandhi, a renowned freedom fighter responsible for massive civil disobedience movements, disliked the aforementioned label imposed upon such active protests, claiming that it incorrectly suggested passivity as an ingredient in nonviolent struggles. One may note that there is nothing new about a term that refers to irenic movements which have existed long before Gandhi chose to patent the practice of ahimsa; nonviolent dissent has, and will always continue to thrive in a world divided by ideologies. From a nihilistic viewpoint, Gandhi’s intentions of shaking “the foundations of the British Empire” (Gandhi & Dalton, 1996) using a bit of salt may appear insignificant in the larger scheme of things; after all, the Dandi March was one of a million other famous historic movements. Why make Gandhi and his individual methods of protest the focus of an article that seeks to shed light on the global impact of nonviolent resistance as a whole? What importance do such independent movements- exclusive to the regions they originate in -have to do with world federalism when the motivations of the same are something completely different?
This is primarily because Gandhi remains one of the first master tacticians to lay down a“science” of such resistance (Hardiman, 2020). This contagious ideology may have influenced other famous incidents in the pages of history- such as suffragist movements, the US civil rights movement, and the like –and inspired the strategies of eminent individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. (Passive Resistance, 2018), but so far, Gandhi remains one of the earliest foresighted political geniuses who laid down the relationship between nonviolence and the creation of a world federation: “the very first step to a world federation is to recognize th the freedom of conquered and exploited nations. Thus, India and Africa have to be freed”. He was prepared to welcome a world federation, but a federation of Western nations excluding India and other colonized nations was impossible. His peace efforts went beyond the borders of the country when he tried to dissuade the pursuits of the Axis powers. Gandhi mentioned that the creation of a world federation had to be a voluntary decision stemming from nonviolence; India’s immediate freedom would help it to actively play a part in the process (Schlichtmann,n.d.).
After all, a federation cannot be a unitary world state which abolishes the individual identities
of member nations (Baratta, 2004); that would be negating the diverse histories and struggles
of all these states, which is undesirable. It is evident that individual resistances have helped nations to embrace their sovereignty and take a step forward to become a part of a global federation. Harris Wofford once said that “man’s greatest peaceful revolution... the revolution to establish politically the brotherhood of man” (Baratta, 2004). The horrors of colonization, World War II, the Cold War, and the like, showed us the requirement of peace as an integral step to achieve a world federation. Constitutions of many nations have denounced war and conflict as tools of offense that restrict human liberty and hinder the settlement of disputes, simultaneously limiting national sovereignty to participate in higher unions for global human welfare (Baratta, 2004). To give weight to this, Hans J. Morgenthau wrote: “There can be no permanent international peace without a state coextensive with the confines of the political world” (Morgenthau, 1948). Both world federalism and peace share a mutually beneficial relationship. That is why the League of Nations failed because of its inability to maintain global peace.
To conclude, I believe that the words of Irving Horowitz sum up my article pretty well, when he identified Indian nonviolent movements (an example applicable to other nations as well) as favorable for “the development of nationalism in underdeveloped nations to a point of equality as a mode for arriving at a world state” and for solving global problems (Horowitz,2012).
Gokul Nair was a participant in the GFL Essay Contest- January 2022 (now World Federalist Essay Contest). This essay of his was adjudged as the Best Entry in the School Graduates (University and Beyond Category) in this contest.