Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Violence & Alienation?

Kasama Project posted on article entitled Violence & Street Fighting: Who Says It Alienates the People?

The article addresses liberal/Leftist criticisms of anarchist "violence" using historical examples of violent struggle. The article, while pertaining mostly to contemporary North American anarchy, is couched in leftist/communist terms. Don't let that turn you off, my dear anarchists.


Revolutionary politics and militant tactics are inherently shocking to powerful sections of society. It is certainly unacceptable to that liberal establishment (that some want to ally with). It is offensive and infuriating to the more backward. And any serious revolutionary movement needs to travel (with enthusiasm) straight into those hostile winds — with a deep strategic sense that there are other forces who in class society who are not nearly so conservative.

The assumption of those who we’ve called “the social pacifists” was (and often still is) that violence is automatically self-isolating and alienating. And that “the masses of people” can’t possibly “relate” to violence, and will be “turned off.”

Political forces fixated on respectability assert their tactical orientations in the name of appealing to “the people” — but really they want a politics and a set of tactics that are acceptable to sections of the ruling establishment

It is, of course, possible to carry out militant tactics that do alienate people. And those tactics often have to do with getting bystanders and “innocent people” hurt. Provoking police attack on unprepared people is not generally a good idea. Attacking ambiguous symbols that many ordinary people identify with is also not a great idea (why burn a supermarket in an urban rebellion? Why target small grocery store owners?). Black Blocs sometimes are rather arrogantly indifferent to their surroundings, and like a great deal of anarchist politics is seen as an act of self-expression.

The “social pacifists” (then and now) are basically wrong when they argue that violence and militancy is inherently alienating. It reveals what their prejudices (and strategies) are, and who they are afraid of alienating. But among the oppressed this is just not automatically and universally the case.

“Lets stipulate that the Black Bloc doesn’t generally think its actions through in terms of their strategic consequences and that the elevation of trashing to a strategy in its own right is foolish. That said, we shouldn’t measure the effects of these actions simply in terms of how they are popularly received. Strikes can also be unpopular and “alienating.” Indeed many many people don’t approve of political demonstrations at all. The tactics we use are not just for passive consumption through the mass media, they are also about developing our capacities. One of the capacities any revolutionary movement needs to develop is a capacity to fight.”

a revolutionary movement that can’t appreciate mass acts of rebellion is not a revolutionary movement.

Militancy is (in fact) part of the preparation for revolution, and part of the hardening of forces that can lead or make a revolution.


Post a Comment

<< Home