Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Violence and Nonviolence

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“Non-violence” takes a distinction created by the state (between violence and non-violence) and then applies this moralistically to the tactics of the movement, such that any stepping outside of these boundaries becomes, not a disagreement about tactics, but an occasion for condemnation (this reminds me of re-reading King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” recently, and being struck by the way in which King puts forward a clearly moral position without seeming to me to be moralistic; I’m interested in tring to figure out exactly where the distinction lies). The situation where “non-violent” activists cooperate with the state in condemning their supposed comrades is not accidental, but flows directly from their philosophy; it is to the credit of those non-violent activists who refuse to do this that they put solidarity ahead of their philosophy.

Some interesting thoughts on violence and nonviolence in activism at An und für sich. I especially appreciated this citation of David Graeber:

“I remember my surprise and amusement, the first time I met activists from the April 6 Youth Movement from Egypt, when the issue of non-violence came up. “Of course we were non-violent,” said one of the original organizers, a young man of liberal politics who actually worked at a bank. “No one ever used firearms, or anything like that. We never did anything more militant than throwing rocks!”

Written by gerrycanavan

March 9, 2012 at 9:37 am

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