commentary, philosophy, and outright rants

A recent post on Reclaiming’s Spider list claimed (in an ongoing discussion of the meaning of “non-violence”) that Mahatma Gandhi said:

“When confronting oppression, if the choice is between  violent action and non violent action, then I choose non violent action.But if the choice is between violent action and no action, then I choose violence.”

Strangely enough – or perhaps not so strangely for a Reclaiming list – the quote is not attributed to any specific writing, speech, or other utterance of Gandhi’s. It’s simply there as a statement, maybe even something that Gandhi never said. It certainly contradicts what he’s written in his books about non-violence,  such as the following:

“Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being. ” ( Non-Violence in Peace and War, Mohandas K. Gandhi. Navajivan PublishingHouse, Ahmedabad, 1948 , Volume I , p. 61.)

I do not see how someone who said that non-violence must be inseparable from the practitioner of non-violence could possibly even imagine choosing a violent action, for any reason.

I see a lot of this in Reclaiming as a worldwide organization. I see people who do not seem to understand that a questioning attitude can be expressed in the declaratory mode; who think that people who say that “I have heard that Mudflap onkized Doodleface” are declaring that, as a fact, Mudflap onkized Doodleface. I see people who make sweeping statements that other people have never engaged in certain actitivities, when the people making those statements cannot possibly make any such statement from the first-hand mode they demand because they haven’t been at every single activity of every single Reclaiming-related political action.

What I see, especially of late, in Reclaiming as a worldwide organization, is the following:

  • A fear of speaking truth to power, when that power is within the organization;
  • Ad hominem arguments used on a regular basis by those in perceived power, which in turn actualizes a power-over which is formally disclaimed;
  • Lip-service to the ideas in the Principles of Unity about the “questioning attitude”;
  • An unwillingness to look at how the organization deals with its purported Principles – or even the simple redefinition of “Principles” to “sorta kinda suggested guidelines”, in practice;
  • Ad authoritatem arguments used without reference to any reliable source showing that the authority cited is even responsible for what is being attributed to her or him;
  • A seeming lack of understanding of English grammar, even by those who live in the US, UK, or other English-speaking countries.

I’m not bothering to post to Reclaiming’s Spider list anymore; I find it of no practical use to simply set myself up as a target for people who exhibit such behaviors, and to see no list-based response to this from a 251-member list of people, many of which (but not necessarily all, because one does not need to be a Reclaiming practitioner either to organize or to teach at a Reclaiming WitchCamp) supposedly adhere to Reclaiming’s Principles of Unity.


Comments on: "And the great Reclaiming nonsense continues" (3)

  1. Mebbe the person using the unattributed quote is thinking about Indira. >;-P

  2. knittingwoman said:

    somebody did track down the gandhi quotes using wikipedia. Wikipedia’s article on Gandhi has> two quotes (from Joan Bondurant’s /Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian> Philosophy of Conflict/) that are not too different in spirit from the> one Tobie heard:>

  3. As wary as I am of Wikipedia (which often has articles which contradict each other), just for the sake of acceptance, the article cited does contain the quote cited by Tobie – but then follows with a quote saying that the person is choosing not to participate in non-violence, which is a choice *not permitted* in the Principles of Unity to Reclaiming Practitioners:”Gandhi guarded against attracting to his satyagraha movement those who feared to take up arms or felt themselves incapable of resistance. ‘I do believe,’ he wrote, ‘that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.'” [20]”At every meeting I repeated the warning that unless they felt that in non-violence they had come into possession of a force infinitely superior to the one they had and in the use of which they were adept, they should have nothing to do with non-violence and resume the arms they possessed before. It must never be said of the Khudai Khidmatgars that once so brave, they had become or been made cowards under Badshah Khan’s influence. Their bravery consisted not in being good marksmen but in defying death and being ever ready to bare their breasts to the bullets.”[21]Gandhi (assuming the remarks are sourced correctly; Wikipedia is rife with errors), even here, says that although non-violence is a choice that people might not be able to make, it is nevertheless a -choice-; and that while people who fear using non-violence as a course of action might use violence may be brave, they are not *non-violent*.There is another important difference here: although Gandhi (according to these quotes) allowed for people not to be able to choose non-violence, Reclaiming does not allow that choice. Apparently Reclaiming is not as great-souled (the translation of the honorific, “Mahatma”) as Gandhi, nor does it wish to be as a group.Summary: As I pointed out before, a person is non-violent or not. The quotes from Gandhi, *in context*, reinforce my statement. One can choose to be non-violent, or not – and according to Reclaiming’s Principles of Unity, if one does not choose to be non-violent, one does not choose to be Reclaiming.

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