One of the signal characteristics of contemporary conservative thought, especially in the United States of America, is its extreme love of violence and brutality, a commitment that seems to far outpace any notions about economic growth or free-market economics. Hence things like this claim from John Hinderacker:
The most over-rated man of the 20th century was Gandhi. Nelson Mandela is runner-up.
I actually agree with a number of other things on Hinderacker’s list. But these attacks on the leaders of successful non-violent resistance movements are absurd. It’s nice that Hineracker had enough political sense to not include Martin Luther King, Jr on this list. At any rate, it’s worth looking back to the 1970s and 80s and seeing how widely believed it was then that the end of apartheid would necessarily be a bloody and violent endeavor. And as we’ve seen over the past 15 years in Zimbabwe, regimes born in that kind of violence do not leave a good foundation for the future. And the general ideas of non-violent resistance that Gandhi pioneered have done much good, not only in South Africa but in the Civil Rights movement here in the US, in the opposition to Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, etc. and I trust will continue to be an important part of the arsenal of freedom.