How does nonviolence work? - Wikipedia
The nonviolent approach to social struggle represents a radical departure from conventional thinking about conflict, and yet appeals to a number of common-sense notions.
Among these is the idea that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the populace. Without a bureaucracy, an army or a police force to carry out his or her wishes, the ruler is powerless. Power, nonviolence teaches us, depends on the co-operation of others. Nonviolence undermines the power of rulers through the deliberate withdrawal of this co-operation.
Also of primary significance is the notion that just means are the most likely to lead to just ends. When Gandhi said that, "the means may be likened to the seed, the end to a tree," he expressed the philosophical kernel of what some refer to as prefigurative politics. Proponents of nonviolence reason that the actions we take in the present inevitably re-shape the social order in like form. They would argue, for instance, that it is fundamentally irrational to use violence to achieve a peaceful society.
Some proponents of nonviolence, such as Christian anarchists, advocate respect or love for opponents. It is this principle which is most closely associated with spiritual or religious justifications of nonviolence, as may be seen in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus urges his followers to "love thine enemy," in the Taoist concept of wu-wei, or effortless action, in the philosophy of the martial art Aikido, in the Buddhist principle of metta, or loving-kindness towards all beings, and in the principle of ahimsa, or non-violence toward any being, shared by Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Respect or love for opponents also has a pragmatic justification, in that the technique of separating the deeds from the doers allows for the possibility of the doers changing their behaviour, and perhaps their beliefs. As Martin Luther King said, "Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him." The Christian focus on both non-violence and forgiveness of sin may have found their way into the story of Abel in the Qur'an. Liberal movements within Islam have consequently used this story to promote Islamic ideals of non-violence.
Finally, the notion of Satya, or truth, is central to the Gandhian conception of nonviolence. Gandhi saw truth as something that is multifaceted and unable to be grasped in its entirety by any one individual. We all carry pieces of the truth, he believed, but we need the pieces of others’ truths in order to pursue the greater truth. This led him to a belief in the inherent worth of dialogue with opponents, and a sincere wish to understand their drives and motivations. On a practical level, willingness to listen to another's point of view is largely dependent on reciprocity. In order to be heard by one's opponents, one must also be prepared to listen.