The power of Non-Violence and the Force of Tyranny By Teodros Kiros

June 3rd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Power is the ability to overcome obstacles by the use of reason, and there are two forms of power; external power, a power that aims at achieving ends by using power as a form of domination, and internal power, a power that first attends to a dispassionate examination of its condition before it interacts with others.

Force is the capacity is use physical strength to overcome obstacles.

Internal Power is the essential quality of non-violence and force is the essential quality of tyranny. The organizing principle of non-violent resistance is internal power and the organizing principle of tyranny is force, and these principles are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled. That is why tyranny can be overcome only by internal power, inspite of tyranny’s overt arrogance in seeking to intimidate democratic force which resist it by a
patient, organized and trained collectivities which refuse to leave streets once they resolve to fight tyranny.

Whereas tyrannies use force to achieve their aims, those who resist them do not use force, even when they are forced into it, as was done in Egypt’s uprising to a limited degree, and now in Syria in a full fledged way, the classical modality of uprising, true to its nature, does use force to achieve its aims.

Classical non-violence takes great pride it training its followers to train themselves to overcome their oppressors by taking beatings, jails and abuses as was done in the practices of the civil rights moments in the American south in the struggle against segregation.
The Ethiopian condition that is maturing now as the tyrannical apparatus continues to discourage and intimidate any potential uprising infact can be resisted only by the internal power on non-violence.

The current Ethiopian condition is the ripe ground where non-violent resistance can be staged in the yearning for regime change. The Ethiopian youth could have easily flooded the streets of Addis to resist tyranny. But they know better, and they decided to stay home and resist tyranny. Non-participation, when the time is not ripe, is also a form of non-resistance as I argued in my recent article, “ Our Moral struggle continues”.

It is this subtle form of resistance, which I celebrated recently. This form of silent resistance is the first stage of explicit resistance, which will come in the form of time, and when the objective and subjective conditions of the Ethiopian condition permit.

Organizing a non-violent form of resistance requires vigilance to Fortuna and virtu, Fortuna must bless the venture and virtu must be willing and capable of accommodating the moods of Fortuna. I advise my readers to visit my article the “The People’s Machiavelli”, in, for my usage of the concepts of Fortuna and Virtu.

Teodros Kiros
Professor of Philosophy and English (Liberal Arts)
Berklee College of Music

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