Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Tolerance and Solidarity vs Enemy Images Its relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century


Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Civil War in France


Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature


Violence and the Origin of the State

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

What is to be done?


The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

The Cultural Revolution

Left-Wing Communism

The American Revolutions

The French Revolutions

On Workers Control

On Religion

On the Arms Race

Militarization of Labor

Russian Revolution

The Women's Question

Role of Communist Party

On Violence

On the Army

On Women

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism

Solidarity, based on mutual understanding, is essential to the success of any revolutionary movement. As Lenin insisted, the revolutionary movement must unite the entire people on the basis of an understanding of the perspectives of all classes in the society. This requires a full appreciation and support for all the complex aspects of national culture as emphasized by Franz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral and it requires overcoming the racism used by the capitalist to divide and weaken workers' movements.

But can one expect revolutionaries to tolerate their oppressors, those whom they seek to overthrow, those who counter the revolution with every violent means possible? This is an important question because enemy images are central to the culture of war, and the overcoming of enemy images is central to the culture of peace

There has never been a war without an "enemy" while in the culture of peace "enemy images" are transcended and superseded by "understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures" This is the basis on which the United Nations adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace in 1999, including Action Area 14. (a)-(i) on understanding, tolerance and solidarity.

How can revolutionaries avoid having enemies? The answer to this can be found in the practice of nonviolence as developed by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr and as expressed in nonviolent movements such as those in South Africa and the Philippines.

As Gandhi always insisted, we must have no enemies, but only opponents whom we need to "wean from error by patience and sympathy." As he said, we must distinguish between a person and their actions: "'Hate the sin and not the sinner' ... It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator."

Martin Luther King, Jr put it this way: The "nonviolent resister [is] constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong ... [he] does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding ... [and] to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent ... The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness ... attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil ... We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust."

Through the practice of nonviolence, both Gandhi and King were able to neutralize some opponents and turn others into allies in such a way as greatly strengthen the movements they were leading for independence from colonialism in India and for civil rights in America. They proved that the refusal to have enemies is a powerful revolutionary tactic.

History is full of examples of former enemies who have turned into allies. A particularly important example was Saul of Tarsus who had been the chief persecutor of the Christians, but was then converted to Christianity and became its greatest champion under the name of St. Paul.

Gandhi and King both insisted that nonviolence must be founded in love. As Gandhi said, "so long as we do not accept the principle of loving the enemy, all talk of world brotherhood is an airy nothing." And as King said, "At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love." Great revolutionaries including Che Guevera and Mao Tse-Tung have also recognized that love can be a powerful motivating force for revolutionaries.

They also insisted that to promote justice without taking enemies requires great discipline and courage. As Gandhi put it, "Non-violence is a weapon of the strong. With the weak, it might easily be hypocrisy ... Love wrestles with the world as with itself, and ultimately gains a mastery over all other feelings." And as King said, "nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight."

The principles of nonviolence were used successfully in South Africa to achieve revolutionary change without demonizing the enemy and with minimal bloodshed. As a result, the people of South Africa were able to obtain justice with reconciliation. A national process of conflict resolution was undertaken. And as Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu has written, "When we look around us at some of the conflict areas of the world, it becomes increasingly clear that there is not much of a future for them without forgiveness, without reconciliation. God has blessed us richly so that we might be a blessing to others. Quite improbably, we as South Africans have become a beacon of hope to others locked in deadly conflict that peace, that a just resolution, is possible. If it could happen in South Africa, then it can certainly happen anywhere else."

Although the revolutionary experiences in India, South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States were not able to replace capitalism and its culture of war, they broke new ground in showing that revolutionary change is possible without resort to enemy images. The results of these experiences give the revolutionaries of the 21st Century an advantage over Marx, Engels and Lenin, who had no such experiences to study and learn from. It is from this vantage point that one can go back and reinterpret the great revolutionary documents of the 19th and early 20th centuries that saw no option except to label the capitalists as enemies to be destroyed: the Communist Manifesto, the tract by Engels of Anti-Duhring, Lenin's State and Revolution, and the writings of Mao Tse-Tung.

To borrow the language from Gandhi, revolutionaries should hate the sin and not the sinner; attack the system, but not its authors. Or paraphrasing King: attack the forces of evil rather than the persons who happen to be doing the evil; defeat injustice and not persons. As Gandhi would say, Conquer your opponents with love; convert your enemies into friends.

Keeping in mind the dialectical principle that "the interdependence and the closest and indissoluble connection between all aspects of any phenomenon," any action for solidarity and tolerance contributes to the overall struggle of the culture of peace versus the culture of war.

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Discussion Board Forum on Tolerance and Solidarity vs Enemy Images:

discussion board


Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authoritarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Internationalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare


Agent Provocateurs

Communication systems

Psychology for revolutionaries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence

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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Has Socialism Failed?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Ecology in Cuba

On Religion

Human Rights in South Africa

on Nonviolence

on Nonviolence

on Communism

Cuba's revolutionary medicine

People-power revolution in the Philippines