Friday, August 22, 2014

Gandhi, Hitler and Debate

Earlier this week, I called out Bob Murphy for using pacifism as an excuse for not moderating a debate between Chris Cantwell and Jeff Tucker (SEE: A Note to Bob Murphy: I Would Have Debated Hitler).

As the title of that post made clear, I argued, to make my point, that I would have debated Adolf Hitler himself to advance the ideas of freedom and liberty, and not be concerned about some distorted idea that my views, that are so diametrically opposed to Hitler's, would somehow be confused with those of Hitler.

I want to make two other points relative this topic. They come based on content that can be found in two books, Letters of Note and Mein Kampf.

 Letters of Note content helps in providing a strong example of what I mean when I say one should not be afraid to publicly get in a debate, even with Hitler, even if one is a pacifist. None other than Gandhi, who some might consider an individual that ranks right up there with Murphy in terms of pacifism, once wrote a letter to Hitler, which is included in Letters, where he addressed the letter "Dear friend," and urged Hitler not to go to war.

I also note that many, including libertarians, often quote Gandhi's words,“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.” I suspect Gandhi may have developed this idea by standing on the shoulders of Hitler, who wrote in Mein Kampf, "At the beginning it was apparently crazy in the impudence of its assertions, later it became disagreeable, and finally it was believed."

My point here continues to be, now using Gandhi as an example, that we should not fear engaging in debate, even with those who hold views diametrically opposite ours. No one for a moment thinks that Gandhi sullied his pacifist reputation by attempting to enter into debate with Hitler by urging  Hitler to adopt a less militaristic position. Further, it appears that Gandhi wasn't afraid to adopt a perspective from  Hitler, when he thought the perspective was correct.

Bottom line: The battle of ideas is never won by running from debate, debate is the type of battle that Gandhi did not back away from even when the debate was versus Hitler.


1 comment:

  1. Gospel nonviolence would agree with you. Jesus wasn't a pacifist, He was nonviolent. He actively opposed evil, but with nonviolent means. A debate, when addressing the issues and not attacking the person is nonviolent resistance to evil. Gandhi understood the Gospels better than most clergy.