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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Strange bedfellow or bugs in a rug?

The Wall Street Journal - sometimes lampooned as the War Street Journal for it's never-ending love affair with war of all kinds - has run a curious article on non-violence and social change. Anyone who reads this blog or my other writings knows that I adhere to the notion that we should use whatever means work to achieve our goals. It's my opinion that non-violence doesn't really exist in reality. There are only degrees and relationships to violence.

But, if what's it's boosters call 'non-violence' will work, then by all means let's use it. However, here in the First World non-violence, riddled with inconsistencies and tainted by the high-browed moralism of a wealthy elite, is most often used not as a means of effecting change but rather as a club for dictating social outcomes by limiting the forms that social struggle will take to the symbolic and ineffective.

Further, the ideological construction of non-violent thinking itself limits analysis in critical ways. Take for instance the Bush Administration's allocation of funds to Freedom House for non-violent change in Iran. Just how can an organization that advocates so-called non-violence accept money from the homicidal Bush White House and still maintain a shred of self-respect? Setting aside the violent methods with which the State and Capital employs to collect such funds (because, after all, the charities of the rich, fat on surplus value, are not morally pure either), the American government today is actively engaged in the battle to overthrow the Iranian regime through all available means, including alliances with Al-Qaeda and other violent organizations. For an ideology that pretends to put so much stock in the aligning of ends and means, you have to wonder what kind of ideological gymnastics allow them to jump through those kinds of hoops for the benefit of Washington thugs and criminals.

Of course, once we abandon the useless ideology of non-violence, such contradictions fade away. It becomes clear that, if the paragon of violence that is the State sees no inconsistency in utilizing both allegedly non-violent and violent organizations to achieve its murderous ends, then perhaps there really is no antagonism at all between them. What we are left with is the stark fact that there are ends and there are means and while we may want to achieve our ends in the way most consistent with our values, we still want to achieve them. Considering which tools are appropriate to the task at hand is a much more useful ethic to apply, it turns out.

Nevertheless, you have to give the WSJ credit for consistency. Rather than lecture those low on the economic ladder to constrain our tactics to those that the hypocritical global elite approve of as morally pure (that's a job for the Left, primarily), the paper has admitted that non-violence doesn't always work. That's an understatement, for sure, and obviously disprovable by the sheer fact that the state and other organizations routinely use violence of various kinds to achieve their ends - including overturning various regimes. However, in the end, the paper is unable to draw a connection between it's advocacy of war for social change in Iraq (after all, isn't that what all war is?) and it's position on non-violence in popular movements.

Nevertheless, they get close, and we can connect the dots for them.

Read the article at the link below:

They shall overcome—but perhaps not always
But at its purest, the doctrine of non-violence insists that the method is nearly as important as the message. It also claims that there is no regime or foe, however brutal, that cannot be weakened by non-violent means. Is that claim justified?

No tyrant lasts for ever, and the statement that any brute can be defied can't be disproved. But the experience of ex-Soviet republics suggests that mass protest by a courageous crowd won't always work. In two republics—Belarus and Azerbaijan—rallies have been dispersed and opposition neutralised. Brave souls like Alyaksandr Kazulin, a critic of the regime in Belarus, and Eynulla Fatullaev, an Azeri editor, languish in jail on phoney charges. And in both places, numbers, money and geopolitics have made a difference. The Azeri elite is riding high on surging oil prices; that makes it easier to buy off groups or individuals. In Belarus, there were protests over election fraud in March 2006 which resembled the mass protests that had prevailed in Ukraine 14 months earlier. But in Belarus (despite the solidarity offered by colour-revolution veterans from Georgia and Ukraine), the rallies attracted little over 10,000 at most. Those in Kiev had involved hundreds of thousands.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alexandr Kazulin in Belarus is no way a brave soul, the dude is bought off by international political parties which aim at taking over Belarus.

Kazulin is in no way a brave soul, he is the lowest life possible a sell out and a traitor.

Sun Aug 05, 05:42:00 AM 2007  

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