It has become an offhand response to any discussions about Mahatma Gandhi and the non-violent struggle for independence in colonial India to say “well, it wouldn’t have worked against the Nazis” which implies that a democratic society albeit one that has colonies is on a higher moral level than a fascist, undemocratic one as it has a moral conscience that can be jerked into action by film or photos of unarmed unresponsive protestors being beat down by truncheon wielding thugs.
I would disagree not so much with the statement but with the false premise that is the foundation of the statement.
First off, The British in India and their other colonies were thugs maybe not as bad as the Dutch in Indonesia or the French in Africa or Indochina but they were pretty bad. Here’s a list of some British massacres during colonial times http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100402031023AAzFofX
Second, it wasn’t morality that forced the British to leave India. It was a combination of being bankrupt after World War II and skillful use of the media by Gandhi and the non-violence movement. The civil rights movement would learn a very important lesson from that. “The whole world is watching”
Third, there has been a move on the last few decades to slander Gandhi as much as possible. It seems to be mostly people of a right wing bent doing this – good god fearing “Christians” who love to attack anyone who doesn’t fit in with their autocratic sexually repressed materialistic dogma. According to these folks, Gandhi was any number of things (take your pick) – Pervert, anti-semite, bisexual, hypocrite, liar, all around weirdo etc. The same folks also hate Martin Luther King by the way.
You can’t make an “if” statement if the premise is incorrect. Britain did not give up India due to it being a more moral society as I’ve already discussed. Arguing that Britain is anymore “moral” in the colonialist sense vs. Nazi Germany. Yes, the Nazis killed millions of people but how many people died globally over time as a result of the displacement of colonialism? The forced famines etc? Using non-violence against a state like Nazi Germany may seem ridiculous but you’ll have to come up with a better way to critique it than praising British colonialism and/or slandering Gandhi.