How Non-Violence Protects the State

December 23, 2007 thepad

Peter Gelderoos author of “How Non-Violence Protects The State” is an anarchist organizer from the US who was recently in prison in spain where he faces various charges. He’s currently out on bail and can only come to the UK for 12 days. He’ll be at PAD on Thursday 24th January, at 7.30pm.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             *Gandhi said it’s better to resist violently than to use nonviolence to hide your passivity. Meanwhile, Bono, the Burmese military, and 9 out of 10 humanitarian NGOs agree, peaceful resistance is the best!*                                                                                            Violence never solves anything. Violence begets violence. The government is strong when it comes to violence, we need to attack them where they are weak! Everyone working for social change is familiar with the cliches of pacifism. And to many people it seems that using more radical, illegal, or violent tactics is naturally isolating. But what if it’s actually our supposed allies, or our own revolutionary practices, that are isolating us? What if violence is something diverse, undefinable, a hopelessly broad category that encompasses institutions that perpetuate oppression and actions that can empower and liberate us? What if we are all cogs in a violent system, and what if pacifists are tools of a violent system? People working for social change face plenty of difficult questions, but sometimes matters of strategy and tactics receive low priority. Among many activists, the role of nonviolence as the default mode of struggle bears little scrutiny. Even as it pretends to contain moral strength, nonviolence is a major obstacle in global movements for social change. Nonviolence is based on a number of historical falsifications that enforce an inaccurate understanding of revolution, it protects white privilege and the privilege of the Global North, it can reinforce patriarchal dynamics, and it makes anti-authoritarians complicit with the authorities, preserving the State monopoly of force. Ultimately, nonviolence is created and encouraged by the State, and antithetical to anarchist revolution.

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