The War Resisters' International was formed in reaction to the senseless slaughter of World War I with a mission not only to oppose all war but also to strive to eradicate its causes. This ambitious programme introduced a new and political dimension to the existing moral and religious basis of pacifism. It attracted some of the best pacifist thinkers and activists from around the world - George Lansbury, Bertrand Russell, Bayard Rustin, Martin Niemoeller, Danilo Dolci, and Mahatma Gandhi. The contributions of such figures and the sacrifice and heroism of the thousands who refused to cooperate with their government's war apparatus are chronicled for the first time in this long awaited book.
This book starts with a survey of the historical roots of pacifism in the presence of nonviolence within most world-religions. It goes on to describe the spread of pacifism via European non-conformist religious movements and its adoption by Tolstoi who was the first pacifist to urge action not just against the symptoms of violence but against its causes too: primary social and economic injustice. The major part of the book deals with the history of the War Resisters' International itself - including its formation and rapid spread; its response to Italian action in Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War; the many challenges posed by World War II; the schism with Albert Einstein; compulsory military service; the Cold War and the nuclear threat; the anti-war movement in the 60s and 70s; and specific nonviolent direct actions such as those in response to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Bangladesh war and US draft resistance during the Vietnam war.
Devi Prasad studied at Shantiniketan, Tagore's University, worked as a teacher and artist in Sevagram, Gandhi's ashram, from the 1940s until 1962. From 1962-1972 he was General Secretary of the WRI.
During his time at the WRI significant changes took place. While still concentrating on the work for conscientious objection it widened its scope of work to nonviolence training and nonviolent action against armaments and war. One of the highlights of this development was the presentation of the Manifesto for Nonviolent Revolution at the Triennial Conference of 1972, which then was a real challenge to many people in the WRI.
Devi Prasad took a leading role in widening WRI's work towards nonviolence social change for a world without war.
Devi Prasad: War is a crime against humanity: The story of War Resisters' International
ISBN 0-903517-20-5. 560 pages, 67 photos
Publication date: 21 October 2005
Advance orders (before 20 October 2005): £18.00 plus postage (then £28.00 plus postage). Order online at the WRI webshop.