Nonviolent Training

Bruce Hartford, 2004

Just as there were two kinds of nonviolence, there were two kinds of nonviolent training. Some training was in classic Gandhian nonviolence, learning why (and to some degree, how) to peacefully face and defuse hatred and violence with courage and compassion. The main purpose of training in philosophical nonviolence was to shape the individual person's attitude and mental response to crises and violence. Most of the nonviolent training that is carried out today seems to be of this philosophical sort.

On the other hand, the main purpose of training in tactical nonniolence was to learn the practical techniques of participating in, organizing, and leading, nonviolent direct action demonstrations, — and how to protect yourself from being maimed or killed while doing so.

These two kinds of training were not mutually exclusive, nor were they in opposition to each other,  — frequently they were combined. But a given training session usually emphasized one or the other. In the early years of the Freedom Movement, the late 50s and early 60s, philosophic training predominated, but by the time I became active in 1963 most of the training I was involved in was tactical rather than philosophical.

Why We Trained in Tactical Nonviolence

I used to teach tactical nonviolence at CORE, Non-Violent Action Committee (N-VAC), and SCLC training sessions. And there were good reasons why such training was necessary:

See also
      Two Kinds of Nonviolent Resistance
      Nonviolent Resistance & Political Power
      Nonviolent Resistance, Reform, & Revolution
      Notes from a Nonviolent Training Session

 — Copyright © 2004, Bruce Hartford

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