If the end-game of Gramscian struggle is the isolation and emasculation of the ruling classes’ ensemble of questions, as a way to alter the structure of feeling of the dispossessed so that the next step, the violent overthrow of the state, doesn’t feel like such a monumental undertaking, then I would argue the pedagogic value of retaliating against police by killing one of them each time they kill a Black person, the expropriating of bank funds from armored cars in order to further finance armed struggle as well as community projects such as acupuncture clinics in the Bronx where drug addicts could get clean, and the bombing of major centers of U.S. commerce and governance, followed by trials in which the defendants used the majority of the trial to critique the government rather than plead their case, have as much if not more pedagogic value than peaceful protest. In other words, if not for the “pathological pacifism” (Churchill) which clouds political debate and scholarly analysis there would be no question that the BLA, having not even read Gramsci, were among the best Gramscian theorists the U.S. has ever known.
Frank Wilderson III The Vengeance of Vertigo: Aphasia and Abjection in the Political Trials of Black Insurgents
But here is a list I previously made when I received this question. It is far from exhaustive, but includes at least many essays I have read too. I enjoy essays because you can print them and carry them with you if you aren’t much of a Kindle person:
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
The Open Sore of a Continent by Wole Soyinka
Anarchism and the Black Revolution by Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin
Pacifism as Pathology by Ward Churchill
Violence and the State by Standing Deer
Race Matters by Cornell West
Race: How Blacks & Whites Think & Feel About the American Obsession by Studs Terkel
Inipi: Sweat Lodge by Leonard Peltier
National Liberation Movement’s in Global Context by Jeff Sluka
Property is Theft by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Imperialism: The Highest State of Capitalism by Vladimir I. Lenin
Thirty Theses by Jason Godesky
July 4th Address by Assata Shakur
Assata an Autobiography by Assata Shakur
The Communist Idea and the Question of Terror by Alian Badiou
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
The Uses of the Erotic by Audre Lorde
The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde
Communion: The Female Search for Love by bell hooks
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.
Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam by Martin Luther King Jr.
Nonviolence and Racial Justice by Martin Luther King Jr.
The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X
Prison, Where is Thy Victory by Huey P. Newton
Towards a United Front by George Jackson
Political Prisoners, Prisons, and Black Liberation by Angel Y. Davis
Power Anywhere There’s People by Fred Hampton
On the Black Liberation Army by Jalil Abdul Muntaqim
The World’s Religions by Hudson Smith
On the Value of Skepticism by Bertrand Russel
The Ethics of Belief by William Clifford
All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer
Endgame Vol I: The Problem of Civilization; Endgame Vol II: Resistance by Derrick Jensen
On the Origin of Inequality Jean Jacques Rousseau
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Power Systems by Noam Chomsky
The Threat of a Good Example by Noam Chomsky
The Soviet Union Versus Socialism by Noam Chomsky
A March of LIberty: A Constitutional History of the United States Vol: I & II by Melvin L. Urofsky & Paul Finkleman
Quarrels That Have Shaped the Constitution by John Garraty
The European Union by John Pinder
The Undiscovered Self by C.G. Jung
The Social Contract and the First and Second Discourses by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Other World 9th Edition
American Indian Mythology by Alice Marriott & Carol K. Rachlin
The American Indian by Raymond Friday Locke
The Removal of the Choctaw Indians by Arthur H. DeRosier Jr.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Negroes with Guns by Robert F. Williams
Discipline & Punishment: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexanders
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Decolonizing Anarchism by Maia Ramnath
Finally, search my blog for the tag books to find many more, for free at that! You can also scroll the side and click on each sub-category to more tailor your search.
I'm asking this from a genuine curious mind, I like to further my education in moral topics such as these. I saw your post against Pacifism & wanted to ask why it is you believe violence is necessary to help those in need. I agree with your statement that if action isn't taken people can be hurt but in reality in most situations the option of violence is taken advantage of. In the thousands of millions of wars in human history I only know a handful that have been just. I don't mean to offend you
Well, first, you cannot equate war and violence as the same thing for the simple fact that while all war is violent, all violence is not war. But my opposition to pacifism is rooted squarely in its poor pragmatism and immorality. Once again I’m going to pull from an article I wrote in 2014 to demonstrate the first half of my opposition:
““In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience.”— Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)
Nonviolence played a significant role in Indian independence, absolutely; but the premise that under the tutelage of Gandhi it was the premier force driving the nation toward liberation is a cherry-picked version of history. It downplays into nothingness the fact that the post-WWII crown could no longer maintain the brute force and financial obligation needed to run a global empire. Indigenous American scholar Ward Churchill in Pacifism as Pathology dismantled the myth that nonviolence effectively acted alone or in a vacuum unto itself:
“…Gandhian success must be viewed in the context of a general decline in British power brought about by two world wars within a thirty-year period. Prior to the decimation of British troop strength and the virtual bankruptcy of the Imperial treasury during World War II, Gandhi’s movement showed little likelihood of forcing England’s abandonment of India. Without the global violence that destroyed the Empire’s ability to forcibly control territories (and passive populations), India might have continued indefinitely in the pattern of minority rule marking the majority of South Africa’s modern history, the first locale in which the Gandhian recipe for liberation struck the reef of reality. Hence, while the Mahatma and his followers were able to remain “pure,” their victory was contingent upon others physically gutting their opponents for them.”
At best Gandhi worship ignores — at worst it erases — the revolutionary actions of people like Bhagat Singh and others who galvanized the resistance movement in colonial India. It removes the context of fear created by armed struggle, a reversal of the fear that underpinned British control of a country where Brits were enormously outnumbered. George Orwell, the famous author of 1984, as a former officer in the Indian police noted:
“Gandhi has been regarded for twenty years by the Government of India as one of its right-hand men… 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.”
The material and philosophical reality of nonviolence is one of insufficient means dictating for itself an impossible end. The sectarian nature by which many proponents of Gandhian doctrine preclude or lambaste the use of armed resistance only helps doom a people’s fight for liberation because it effectively counteracts any positive gain they together might achieve. A truly encompassing liberatory praxis must recognize the use of armed resistance as a legitimate and necessary method of achieving liberation. The dismantling of the Gandhi myth is therefore of primary importance in attaining such a praxis.”
To clarify, all nonviolence should not be mistaken for strict pacifism. Some nonviolence, indeed, can be militant and useful, but we should not be foolish enough to believe it, much less strict pacifism, alone could ever be sufficient enough to achieve liberation.
On the whole we have a severely underdeveloped conceptual understanding of violence. All violence is NOT the same. Violence wielded by an oppressor class can NEVER be equivocated with violence used in struggle toward liberation. Failure to differentiate between oppressive violence, passive and active force, and resistance is all too common though. They all get lumped together and treated as equal. This is a great disservice to the oppressed and our oppressors know it. They purposefully conflate oppressive violence with resistance in an effort (quite effectively) to decouple the oppressed’s natural right to self defense from the conditions which incubate militancy.
Violence is inherently neither good nor bad. It is all around us, but who uses it and for what purpose, i.e., the purposes of oppression, the purposes of survival, or the purposes of liberation, all must be contextualized in any discussion of it. Consider that self-defense is not necessarily violent, but oftentimes it is. When self-defense is violent, I submit that if such defense is in the pursuit of liberation, or is requisite to a person or community’s survival, especially when faced with an oppressor, then it is not only essential, it is morally justified.
Violence is a tool, and like any tool it can be used in a variety of ways. Strict pacifism is the ideology of the fool who watches a cop beat a man to death. To quote Malcolm X, “it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.”
Liberals who want to chastise leftists by endorsing pacifism or parliamentary cretinism as a realistic alternative bring up Gandhi and MLK, Jr. For some reason (I think I have a fairly good idea why) they leave out Salvador Allende. The only criticism I have of Allende is that he was too scrupulous, too committed to the structures of bourgeois democracy. That’s minor carping compared to the horrors that subsequently followed under Pinochet’s rule - which I’m careful to add that Allende doesn’t have any responsibility for.