Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Nelson Mandela and the dilemma of violent resistance in retrospect

John W De Gruchy

Abstract


Nelson Mandela and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have become twentieth century icons of resistance against illegitimate regimes and oppression. Both of them were committed makers of peace who were forced by circumstances to engage in violent resistance, the one in an armed struggle and the other in a plot to assassinate a dictator. This recourse to violent means in extraordinary circumstances was driven by moral and strategic considerations that followed a similar logic, even though their contexts were different in important respects. In this essay, we explore these similarities and differences, as well as their reasons for engaging in violent action, and offer certain propositions based on their narrative for responding to political oppression and the call for regime change today.

Keywords


Nelson Mandela; Dietrich Bonhoeffer; violent resistance; armed struggle; Church struggle

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17570/stj.2016.v2n1.a03

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ISSN 2413-9467 (online); ISSN 2413-9459 (print)


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