Envisioning an Anarcho-Pacifist Peace: A case for the convergence of anarchism and pacifism and an exploration of the Gandhian movement for a stateless society
The primary aim of peace and conflict studies is to build a world that is free from the suffering that results from violence in all of its forms. No political theories pursue this more than pacifism and anarchism: pacifism through its rejection of physical violence as a tool of politics and anarchism through its staunch opposition to the structural and direct violence that results from violent forms of authority. This thesis is an attempt to explore the rejection of violence and the building of a nonviolent world through the lens of anarcho-pacifism, which is the amalgamation of both anarchism and pacifism. The purpose of this is to answer the question of how we can create nonviolent societies that enable human flourishing. This is done in two stages. In the first part of this thesis, an argument is made for the joining of anarchism and pacifism. Put simply, this argument is that because pacifists oppose violence as a method of politics, they should therefore reject the state, as the state is rooted in violence. This means that pacifists should adopt anarchism as an ideology and a practice. On the other side, anarchism can be defined through its opposition to domination and violent authority, and on this basis it rejects the state, capitalism, patriarchy and racism, along with any other past, present or future forms of privileging and violent hierarchical structures. The argument is made that if anarchism opposes domination, it should reject physical violence and killing, the ultimate form of domination, as a tool of politics and social transformation. In this way, both pacifism and anarchism come together in synergistic ways. Therefore, anarcho-pacifism is presented as a unique and revolutionary theory that fully rejects all forms of violence as a means and an end in its pursuit of a peaceful world. As a result, there is a theoretical case made that anarcho-pacifism offers great potential to build a nonviolent world. The second part of this thesis is a preliminary exploration into how anarcho-pacifism can be practiced in the real world. This is explored through the Gandhian movement, both in Gandhi’s lifetime but also in the sarvodaya movement. The sarvodaya movement is the movement focused on achieving Gandhian ideals, during Gandhi’s lifetime and after his assassination. It was chosen for exploration as it was deemed to be the largest, most sustained, and most successful example of anarcho-pacifism in practice. Multiple academic contributions are made here. The first is that Gandhi’s anarchistic theory is explored, as well as his similarities and differences with anarchism, which has its roots in Europe. Second, the sarvodaya plan for a nonviolent anarchistic society is outlined using the writings of Gandhi and his principal successor, Vinoba Bhave. Third, the views and reflections of contemporary followers of Gandhi are shared, via in-depth interviews that were conducted in India and the United States. This research is therefore also an attempt to desubjugate Gandhi’s anti-state theory and practice, and highlight the thought and achievement of his successors – Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan – who are rarely acknowledged in nonviolence, anarchist and peace and conflict studies literature. In the final part of the thesis, some conclusions are offered about the Gandhian experience and what it can offer to similar movements in the future. Finally I discuss some challenges that anarcho-pacifism presents to peace and conflict studies.
Advisor: Jackson, Richard; Dawson, Marcelle; Lee, SungYong
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Anarchism, Pacifism, Anarcho-Pacifism, Gandhi, Sarvodaya, Nonviolence
Research Type: Thesis