The Conquest of Violence


When first published in English in 1937, The Conquest of Violence soon established itself as the textbook of non-violent revolution, and is still regarded as a classic text dealing with direct action against war and war preparation. Bart de Ligt (1883-1938) was a leading Dutch anarcho-syndicalist and pacifist — as well as an early feminist — a fighter of all dogma, who was imprisoned in his own country for his anti-militaristic activities both during and after the First World War. He was a great scholar and an exceptional political organiser, deeply admired by Aldous Huxley, whose Introduction to the 1937 edition is reproduced in this edition. Huxley described de Ligt’s work as ‘among the most important contributions to the literature of pacifism'.

The Conquest of Violence presents a strategy for the transformation of society, linking Mahatma Gandhi’s principled non-violence with the total non-cooperation advocated by the syndicalists during the General Strike. De Ligt was an admirer of Gandhi, yet he was also highly critical of his inconsistencies and contradictions: his evaluation of Gandhi is contained in this volume. The quest for non-violent methods of waging conflict is even more urgent today — in the era of nuclear weapons — than when De Ligt wrote, and the depth of his exposition in The Conquest of Violence is a guarantee that his voice will continue to be heard.

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