The Gandhi Conflict Norms

Two Indias: Gandhi and Modern India

Gandhian Perspectives on Conflict and Peace – Hindu University, FL USA

Gandhi was born 2 October 1869, was killed 30 January 1948 by a Pune brahmin, Godse. I was a 17 years old boy in Norway who cried when hearing the news.  Something unheard of had happened.

But I did not know why I cried, and wanted to know more.  Who was Gandhi? So I became a Gandhi scholar as assistant and co-author to the late Arne Næss in his seminal work of extracting from Gandhi’s works and words his Gandhi’s Political Ethics as a norm-system.

Gandhi was for need, modernity for greed; Gandhi for local self-reliance, modernity for unlimited trade; Gandhi for building on own identity, modernity for americanization as neo-nirvana; Gandhi for nonviolent conflict resolution, modernity for police, military, war.

The Gandhi Conflict Norms


N11    Act in conflicts!

N111   Act now!

N112   Act here!

N113   Act for your own group!

N114   Act out of identity!

N115   Act out of conviction!

N12    Define the conflict well!

N121   State your own goal clearly!

N122   Try to understand your opponent’s goal!

N123   Emphasize common and compatible goals!

N124   State the conflict relevant facts objectively!

N13    Have a positive approach to conflict!

N131   Give the conflict a positive emphasis!

N132   See conflict as opportunity to meet the opponent!

N133   See conflict as opportunity to transform society!

N134   See conflict as opportunity to transform yourself!


N21    Act non-violently in conflicts!

N211   Do not hurt or harm with deeds!

N212   Do not hurt or harm with words!

N213   Do not hurt or harm with thoughts!

N214   Do not harm the opponent’s property!

N215   Prefer violence to cowardice!

N216   Do good even to the evil‑doer!

N22    Act in a goal‑consistent manner!

N221   Always include a constructive element!

N222   Use goal‑revealing forms of struggle!

N223   Act openly, not secretly!

N224   Aim the struggle at the correct point!

N23    Do not cooperate with evil!

N231   Non‑cooperation with evil structure!

N232   Non‑cooperation with evil status!

N233   Non‑cooperation with evil action!

N234   Non‑cooperation with those who cooperate with evil!

N24    Be willing to sacrifice!

N241   Do not escape from punishment!

N242   Be willing to die if necessary!

N25    Do not polarize!

N251   Distinguish between antagonism and antagonist!

N252   Distinguish between person and status!

N253   Maintain contact!

N254   Empathy with your opponent’s position!

N255   Be flexible in defining parties and positions!

N26    Do not escalate!

N261   Remain as loyal as possible!

N262   Do not provoke or let yourself be provoked!

N263   Do no humiliate or let yourself be humiliated!

N264   Do no expand the goals for the conflict!

N265   Use the mildest possible forms of conflict behavior!


N31    Solve conflict!

N311   Do not continue conflict struggle forever!

N312   Always seek negotiation with the opponent!

N313   Seek positive social transformations!

N314   Seek human transformation!

‑ of yourself

‑ of the opponent

N32    Insist on the essentials, not on non‑essentials!

N321   Do not trade with essentials!

N322   Be willing to compromise on non‑essentials!

N33    See yourself as fallible!

N331   Remember that you may be wrong!

N332   Admit your mistakes openly!

N333   Consistency over time not very important!

N34    Be generous in your view of the opponent!

N341   Do not exploit the opponent’s weaknesses!

N342   Do not judge the opponent harder than yourself!

N343   Trust your opponent!

N35    Conversion, not coercion!

N351   Always seek solutions that are accepted!

‑ by yourself

‑ by the opponent!

N352   Never coerce your opponent!

N353   Convert your opponent into a believer in the cause!