counterviolence

Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn’t develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence—the problem never goes away. So that is one level.

Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn’t solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that’s the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.
—  The Dalai Lama and Victor Chan, The Wisdom of Forgiveness

anonymous asked:

I'm Jewish and I'm quite conflicted about your messages. For one, you sort of lump all Jewish people as Israeli, which is not the case. (Not all Jewish people in ANY country feel the same about this issue) But, you ignore Israeli being harmed by groups like Hamas & legitimate concerns of Israeli people. That being said, I do NOT agree with what is occurring, but I don't see this problem as entirely one-sided as you seem to. This is a cyclical problem. I wish you more addressed it as so.

First, thanks for voicing your opinion. I don’t think I lumped all Jews in together when I said “The inability of Israel’s government and the Jews who support its actions to see the hypocrisy of what they’re doing is deafening” because not ALL Jews support the Israeli government, a point I thought was rather implicit in my phrasing. If it is not, then I’ll clarify now: I am aware that not all Jewish people align with the current actions taken by the government of Israel.

As for Hamas, I thoroughly disagree. The so-called terrorism Israel says it is fighting, in reality, is the counter-violence created by the terrorism it commits. As I have said before, there is a difference in violence and counter-violence. The former is oppressive, the latter is the retaliatory reaction to oppression and is absolutely vital to the liberation of a peoples ruthlessly subjugated. If Israel is really concerned with the alleged “terrorism” of Hamas, its most prudent action would be to immediately cease participating in the terrorizing of Palestinians. This is the nature of cyclical violence, but it is by no means equivalent when one party has the 4th largest military in the world and the backing of United States military might and the other has Soviet era rockets. 

To better understand Palestinian resistance, I offer the words of Jeff Sluka:

”The condemnation of liberation movements for resorting to violence or armed struggle is almost invariably superficial, hypocritical, judgmental, and unfair and tends strongly to represent another example of the generalized phenomenon of “blaming the victim.” The violence of the situation, the per-existing oppression suffered by those who eventually strike back, is conveniently ignored. The violence of the oppressed is a form of defensive counter-violence to the violence of conquest and oppression. In no armed national liberation movement I know of in history has this not been the case.”

— National Liberation Movements in Global Context

After decades of war on Palestinians and the occupation of their land, Israel has threaded through itself a clearly defined and widely accepted, yet often unarticulated, acceptance of violent oppression. It is, within the dissonance they abide, a fully rationalized phenomenon for its government, with full confidence of Israeli Zionists and the United States government, to carry out odious acts of state-sanctioned terrorism against Palestinians. Yet when those murdered, so clearly revealed in the scope of recent events, grow weary enough to fight against occupation, their counter-violence is totally fetishized, their humanity dehumanized. 

I can’t listen to the colonist’s narrative and take it seriously. 

…Perhaps I ought not to have implied that pacifists are always people who as individuals have led sheltered lives, though it is a fact that “pure” pacifists usually belong to the middle classes and have grown up in somewhat exceptional circumstances. But it is a fact that pacifism as a movement barely exists except in communities where people don’t feel foreign invasion and conquest to be likely. That is why pacifist movements are always found in maritime countries (there is even I believe a fairly considerable pacifist movement in Japan). Government cannot be conducted on “pure” pacifist lines, because any government which refused in all circumstances to use force could be overthrown by anyone, even any individual, who was willing to use force. Pacifism refuses to face the problem of government and pacifists think always as people who will never be in a position of control, which is why I call them irresponsible.

Gandhi has been regarded for twenty years by the Government of India as one of its right-hand men. I know what I am talking about — I used to be an officer in the Indian police. It was always admitted in the most cynical way that Gandhi made it easier for the British to rule India, because his influence was always against taking any action that would make any difference. The reason why Gandhi when in prison is always treated with such lenience, and small concessions sometimes made when he has prolonged one of his fasts to a dangerous extent, is that the British officials are in terror that he may die and be replaced by someone who believes less in “soul force” and more in bombs. Gandhi is of course personally quite honest and unaware of the way in which he is made use of, and his personal integrity makes him all the more useful. I won’t undertake to say that his methods will not succeed in the long run. One can at any rate say that by preventing violence and therefore preventing relations being embittered beyond a certain point, he has made it more likely that the problem of India will ultimately be settled in a peaceful way. But it is hard to believe that the British will ever be got out of India by those means, and certainly the British on the spot don’t think so. As to the conquest of England, Gandhi would certainly advise us to let the Germans rule here rather than fight against them — in fact he did advocate just that. And if Hitler conquered England he would, I imagine, try to bring into being a nationwide pacifist movement, which would prevent serious resistance and therefore make it easier for him to rule.

— 

George Orwell, Letter to the Reverend Iorwerth Jones (April 1941)

Non-violence played a roll in Indian independence, but so did the revolutionary actions of men like Bhagat Singh and his comrades. Ultimately the British didn’t lose to ‘nonviolence,“ no, quite the opposite; the British lost the capacity to maintain an empire post-WWII (violence). Indeed, the oppressors were never afraid of Gandhi, they were afraid of the violence that would erupt after their veneer of control completely faded. 

I recommend Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth for understanding the violence of decolonization.

Don’t take this at face value and say “Oh well we are terrorists too,” or even worse commit what I’ve begun calling “shotgun syndrome” and say “Well then we are all terrorists.” No, there is fault here. Recognize our government is more culpable than small instances of counterviolence worldwide. The propaganda system was created to blur the lines of fault and create sympathy for present and future victim-blaming. The arrogance and inhumanity of it is mind-boggling.      

There have been periods of history in which episodes of terrible violence occurred but for which the word violence was never used… Violence is shrouded in justifying myths that lend it moral legitimacy, and these myths for the most part kept people from recognizing the violence for what is was. The people who burned witches at the state never for one moment though of their act as violence; rather they thought of it as an act of divinely mandated righteousness. The same can be said of most of the violence we humans have ever committed.
—  Gil Bailie 

anonymous asked:

I noticed you said in one of your answers that you are "no pacifist." May i ask why? i'm just curious, that's all, as the concept of war is really quite redundant. the only reason it remains so is because of hatred, ignorance, & profit. Our entire system relies on it for money & as a way of keeping it running; however, it does not solve anything whatsoever.

Interesting that you would ask this. 

I’m hoping peaceandphilosophy and I will discuss this dichotomy at length and publish it here on tumblr sometime in the near future.

But we’ll start here I suppose. Before I start let me point out the major slipped premise you made: “I’m just curious, that’s all, as the concept of war is really quite redundant."   

You’ve done a couple things here.  You have stated war is redundant, and sure, generally I agree.  But are you making a categorical syllogism–that is, are you saying "All war is redundant”

If so, I vehemently disagree.  We need to understand the state of mind of the abusive to understand the state of mind of the perpetrators of violence.  We need to understand that those who would use violence to control are indeed the abusive

Lundy Bancroft wrote “An abuser doesn’t change because he feels guilty or gets sober or finds God.  He doesn’t change after seeing the fear in his children’s eyes or feeling them drift away from him.  It doesn’t suddenly dawn on him that his partner deserves better treatment.  Because of his self-focus, combined with the many rewards he gets from controlling you, an abuser changes only when he has to, so the most important element in creating a context for change in an abuser is placing him in a situation where he has no other choice.  Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that he will ever change his behavior.”

Let us use that in the war mentality: “Hitler didn’t change because he felt guilty or got sober or found God.  He didn’t change after seeing the fear in Jewish children’s eyes or seeing them exterminated at his orders.  It didn’t suddenly dawn on him that his fellow human beings deserved better treatment.  Because of his self-focus, combined with the many rewards he got from controlling populations, he had no intention of changing his behavior, so the most important element in stopping him was to place him in a situation where he had no other choice.  Otherwise, as with just asking him to play nice, it was impossibly unlikely that he would have changed his behavior (indeed, he never did—he killed himself).”

Pick any of the numerous dictators of the Arab Springs and ask yourself if these men were willing to peacefully withdraw their control and power.     

We also need to remember that using violence to dismantle control, or oppression is not the same as the previously mentioned violence; it is counterviolence and is not oppressive.

The English language does great disservice to us by offering one word to describe acts of self-defense, retaliation, war, murder, rape, hunting and any other form of violence and so differentiation is essential.  

Considering much of the violence against us is embedded oppression, or slow threats of violence, counterviolence should not only be expected, but sometimes (though obviously not all) it should be rally cries to a problem within this system.  Counterviolence does not deserve to be shunned, discounted, punished with oppressive violence or ignored.

Let’s move on to why I’m not a pacifist. I think understanding violence takes understanding on some level class struggle.  This post is long as it is so I’ll skip over it today.

Non-violent resistance can be used effectively. The problem with pacifism is that it does not accept a diversity of tactics and tries to make non-violence a moral issue, when it is a matter of effectiveness and not morality.  To paraphrase Jensen’s Endgame, dogmatic pacifists are the most selfish people in the world, because they place their moral purity—or to be more precise, their self-conception of moral purity—above stopping injustice.

An end goal of pacifism is not synonymous with an end goal of peace. These are different terms. If we use a lexical definition (which may be insufficient), the belief that war and violence are unjustifiable under any circumstances, and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means, then pacifism is a tool to be used for an end goal of peace and not the end in and of itself.

With such a definition, pacifism does at times equal retardation in the sense that any progress made with counterviolence may in the future be rescinded by a dogmatic view of resistance adhering only to a pacifist’s doctrine. Adherence to this doctrine allows the continued flow of violence in only one direction, downward from those in power upon the powerless. This extends to all forms of violence, not just a strict definition of bodily harm, though that is certainly the most obvious example.

A less obvious example; the threat of violence from affluence downward is violence itself, such as private property. How peaceful is it to tell a public it has no place to live less they submit to a system of wage labor to pay for it? If one does not submit, the deterrence will be eviction from this land, or worse, poverty and possible death. How is this eviction enforced? By police with guns and jail if need be, violence. 

Pacifism is exclusive because it rebukes militancy. Be clear, I am not rebuking peaceful resistance. Not at all. I merely mean I believe we have to be willing to use all the tools available to us in any quest for peace. For a cheap analogy, pacifism is like showing up to a gun fight with a knife..  

When people jump to the conclusion that counterviolence participants are “bloodthirsty sword swingers” they take the leap into an unfortunately ill-informed view of why people have reacted to send violence up the hierarchy in the first place.

Some of our greatest examples of pacifist resistance, which have been glorified to no end because it serves the interests of those at the top of our hierarchy of power by castrating any upward flow of violence, have been accompanied by effective and powerful militancy–Bhagat Singh to Gandhi in India; Malcolm X or the Black Panthers to Martin Luther King Jr. in America; and even in the Arab Springs counterviolence in Libya brought down one of the worst regimes of oppressive violence in modern history.  All these resistances were in response to downwardly violent oppression. 

As Jeff Sluka put it, “The condemnation of liberation movements for resorting to violence or armed struggle is almost invariably superficial, hypocritical, judgmental, and unfair and tends strongly to represent another example of the generalized phenomenon of “blaming the victim.” The violence of the situation, the per-existing oppression suffered by those who eventually strike back, is conveniently ignored. The violence of the oppressed is a form of defensive counter-violence to the violence of conquest and oppression. In no armed national liberation movement I know of in history has this not been the case.”

Let me stress counterviolence is not military force, usually—there are always exceptions. Indeed, military force is in the top of the hierarchy of violence in that it is used to exploit resources, whether that resource be favorable governments or material resources (Think Arbenz government in Guatemala and US support for the United Food Company, now called Chiquita, or Iran to “contain” communism and consolidate Western oil resources, Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now called British Petroleum, in Operation Ajax, 1953). 

All in all, because this post is growing by the minute, pacifism discounts oppressive violence and places a dogmatic idea of moral purity before stopping injustice.  To revisit Hitler, what was the moral thing to do? Stop him, by any means, or adhere to pacifist doctrine?  I think the answer is obvious. 

peaceandphilosophy-blog  asked:

Is the sort of revolution you desire non violent? And by 'non violent', I mean to use the same term MLK used.

Revolutions do not happen without violence. MLK’s active nonviolence is a beautiful concept–I admire it. But let’s not pretend that the Civil Right’s movement didn’t have an important role for counterviolence, because it did; and without both, that is violence and nonviolence, I doubt black Americans, as well as women, would hold the same status they do today (though still not equal to white males, or whites in general). 

So when you ask me the nature of the sort of “revolution” I “desire” you’ve slipped a premise by me. You’ve unknowingly asserted that revolutions can happen, or have happened, nonviolently; and if I assert anything otherwise then the possibility reveals itself that I advocate/desire violence when I don’t. 

I acknowledge that violence has a purpose, a place, a home–and that it is a part of our lives and a major component of social change, whether we like to admit it or whether we like to pretend we can or should never use it.

Show me a revolution that has sustained itself without having encompassed both elements and then maybe I can answer with real intent. Until then I feel like this question backs me into a false dichotomy.

I desire revolution–the good, the bad and if this also means the ugly, then so be it.  

I want to leave with a favorite quote of mine:

“The condemnation of liberation movements for resorting to violence or armed struggle is almost invariably superficial, hypocritical, judgmental, and unfair and tends strongly to represent another example of the generalized phenomenon of "blaming the victim.”  The violence of the situation, the per-existing oppression suffered by those who eventually strike back, is conveniently ignored.  The violence of the oppressed is a form of defensive counter-violence to the violence of conquest and oppression.  In no armed national liberation movement I know of in history has this not been the case.“–Jeff Sluka, National Liberation Movements in Global Context

A little more on how I feel about violence you may look here and here. 

What strict pacifism ignores of the violence perpetrated against us: 

Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.”—Derrick Jensen, Endgame Series

“Premise Five: The property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control—in everyday language, to make money—by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.”—Derrick Jensen, Endgame Series  

To clarify the role of violence in social and self-determining movements, both ours and past:

 ”The condemnation of liberation movements for resorting to violence or armed struggle is almost invariably superficial, hypocritical, judgmental, and unfair and tends strongly to represent another example of the generalized phenomenon of “blaming the victim.” The violence of the situation, the per-existing oppression suffered by those who eventually strike back, is conveniently ignored. The violence of the oppressed is a form of defensive counter-violence to the violence of conquest and oppression. In no armed national liberation movement I know of in history has this not been the case.”—Jeff Sluka, “National Liberation Movements in Global Context” 

The State’s perverse monopoly on force: 

 “…the use of force is regarded as legitimate only so far as it is either permitted by the state or prescribed by it… The claim of the modern state to monopolize the use of force is as essential to it as its character of compulsory jurisdiction and of continuous organization”—Max Weber,The Theory of Social and Economic Organization

Rejecting obstructivists’ moral purity:

“Counterviolence has it’s place. We need to have serious conversations with ourselves and each other in determining when, where and how we can use it to leverage change and dismantle the hierarchy of violence perpetrated against us. Those who say “violence isn’t the answer” or “violence never solves anything” are the ones whom never were colonized, never raped, never made slaves, never experienced the weight of imperialism squashing their freedom and those whom never have been the non-beneficiaries of privilege. These are those whom refuse to recognize that they too are culpable as they voted for governments that oppress; are a part of cultures of rape, racism, murder and are the judge, jury and executioners of any movement to upturn the dominant culture. These are those who put their false conception of moral purity before standing and fighting against injustice. And these are those who fail to see that if violence had never existed on Earth, the violence to exploit and the violence to oppress, then perhaps that reality in which non-violence ended quarrels might exist—but this is not our reality. Hundreds, thousands of years of oppression, whether racism, capitalism or patriarchy, will never come to an end by non-violence alone. We’ll need more. We’ve always needed more.”–america-wakiewakie 

Edit: This was for you Anonymous