By Mary Elizabeth King, National Catholic Reporter, November 12, 2014

In the decades since the death of Mohandas Gandhi and his student and successor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the understanding of how civil resistance can be effective has expanded. The social science of nonviolent action has deepened, showing that while violent campaigns have achieved their goals in about 1/4 of all cases, civil resistance has succeeded in more than half of all such campaigns. End the cooperation of those who are oppressed, and oppressors cannot last, as Gandhi had discerned by 1905. The ways to do this multiply with every new struggle, and the knowledge of how to apply nonviolent tactics is expanding exponentially.

So the question posed by Rabbi A. James Rudin — whether “Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance” could be used to oppose Islamic State atrocities — sidesteps the greater reality that today, it would not be Gandhi’s notions, but a more advanced form of nonviolent conflict, burnished by the collective experience of hundreds of social movements in Gandhi’s wake worldwide, which were predicated in no small part on his experiments and practices.

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