Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 25. 6 October 1972
Non Violent Revolution — Alick Shaw Interviews George Lakey — Lakey's Pacifism
Non Violent Revolution
Alick Shaw Interviews George Lakey
Just how far has the nonviolent "revolutionary" movement developed in the U.S. especially with regard to certain short term issues such as the war?
The anti-war movement is deepening its analysis, its understanding of what needs to change if the war is to end It is also deepening its understanding of what a proper movement is all about. I started working against the war in 1963. In those days we were nearly always making conventional liberal assumptions. Most people did not know what the war was about and often didn't know it was going on. But we believed that when people did find out about the war that it was not so important to the government, that they would not stop it. I think that I was in the mainstream in thinking that and perhaps the mainstream of the anti-war movement has not deepened in that. But a one fifths to two fifths have deepened their analysis and they now see the war as an imperialist war utterly connected with our activities in Latin America and Africa, and that there is now debate as to whether the war can in fact come to any conclusion without fundamental changes in the U.S. But at least there is a recognition that it is part of the same thing, and if it is not Vietnam it will be Thailand or some other place.
Yes but the work that American Friends Service Committee has done in the area of imperialism would seem to provide the material needed to convince people of the incredible power of the Military Industrial Complex and the need to smash it, if need be with violence. The information is provided but no plan of action is. The in formation is so damning of present setups in the U.S. that it seems to me to possess one with the fire, to take a violent reaction.
The thing is that in the American historical context in the mid 50's we were still in the McCarthy deep freeze era. No action of any significance was taken until the black people's struggle started in 1955 at Montgomery. They provided the model for the next seven years of determination, anger, deep indignation and so on, coupled with non-violent means. So there are a great many Americans who do not believe in the degree of upsetness immediately translating into degree of violence because of that model. Some of the young people do not have that model, and we as a people are a historical even about events that took place only 6 or 7 years ago. So there is a generational split on that. But I believe that most of us believe that it is possible to be deeply indignant about something and still struggle non-violently at the same time, and that means are to be determined by their effectiveness not their ventilation of hostilities.