The Colonial Violence of "Non-Violent" Resistance


  • Tanya Dushatska University of Toronto


decolonization, colonialism, violence, non-violence, resistance, revolution, Fanon, Gandhi, India


In his paper "On Violence", Frantz Fanon argues for the crucial role of violence in achieving decolonization and asserts that the notion of "non-violent resistance" is introduced and upheld by those who are ultimately interested in preserving the capitalist colonial structure (Fanon 1;22). Fanon argues for the necessity of violence, claiming only violence can dislodge a regime that is itself established and maintained through violence, and that violence grants a sense of agency to the colonized people (2; 4; 6; 22; 10; 21; 51). I open this paper with an exposition and defence of Fanon's two arguments for the necessity of violence to anti-colonial efforts and an explanation of why insistence upon non-violent resistance protects the powers that be. In this paper, I will defend Fanon's arguments from the objection that non-violent tactics have historically been successful in combatting colonialism, and to explicitly argue that upholding non-violence as the only legitimate form of resistance is an oppressive tactic. I will accomplish this by examining the role of violent resistance, both within and without Mahatma Gandhi's Quit India movement, in advancing Indian liberation from British rule in 1947.