A few days ago, I asked the question in class, how would Marx view the lack of violence in the Indian revolution? Knowing that Marx believed violence was necessary for a successful revolution, I wanted to understand why. I did some research on Marx and Engels’ views on violence in revolutions. I found this Jstor article very helpful in understanding their opinions: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4394305?seq=1. Most of the first two pages is just review of Marxist philosophy of revolutions.
According to Engels in The Principles of Communism, he would not resist a nonviolent revolution, however he views violence as the only way to combat suppression, as suppression itself is enforced through violence. He describes the proletariat as, “goaded into revolution” by this suppression. This seems to suggest that violence is the natural response to suppression. Therefore there needs to be some powerful outside source or leader separate from the masses, who advocates for nonviolence, in order to prevent this seemingly inevitable course of actions. In the Indian Revolution, that strong leader and advocate for nonviolence appears to be Gandhi. Without Gandhi, while the Revolution would still occur according to Marx and Engels, it would most likely be a violent one because there would be no one preventing it from becoming one. Therefore, the prerequisite for a nonviolent revolution is an incredibly influential leader, who is a supporter of nonviolence. Such influential leaders like Gandhi are not common, which is part of the reason why we remember Gandhi so positively 60 years after his death. So a nonviolent revolution may not be impossible, however, it is incredibly unlikely, as leaders like Gandhi are extremely rare. Marx and Engels do not deny the effectiveness of a nonviolent revolution, however they deny the ability for it to be implemented. So the prospect of a violent revolution is not inevitable as Marx and Engels assert, but highly unlikely.