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Non-Violence and Liberation

Friday, January 16, 2009

Man, the stupidity of privileged white people talking about non-violence rears its ignorant head again.  Jonathan Schell gives us “examples” of when non-violence worked:

It was centrally involved in the defeat of the British Raj, with Gandhi leading the way. And the Soviet Union went under the waves with hardly any violence being used…

And then, of course, the civil rights movement, and a whole string of democratic nonviolent revolutions at the end of the twentieth century, starting in Southern Europe in Greece, Spain, Portugal, jumping over to Asia, Philippines, South Korea.

Ugh, where to begin.  I won’t get into too much detail here, but, for one example, Gandhi wasn’t as adhering to the non-violent principle as we think and this is partly due to the propaganda the Indian state post-independence (or is it “in dependence”) and of mainstream Western society.  We hold Gandhi up as a god when in fact he was a human being, an amazing human being, but a human being non-the-less with some very disturbing flaws and elitist mentalities.

Did independence rule out in India or dependence to the Western world?  Well, if you look at India today there is essentially a shame democracy in progress with huge wealth discrepancies from the top to the bottom as well as a whole slew of other things that never got fixed post-independence.  Essentially what happened for the lower caste people in Indian society was that during British colonialism the Brits used high caste Brahmans to rule their colony and suppress the masses.  Now, the Brahmans and those of the capitalist class rule India and oppress the masses sans British magistrates.

Secondly, the Philippines!?  Are you fucking serious!?  This just shows Schell’s complete fucking ignorance on anything he is talking about.  While he might “know” about non-violent resistance to certain structures of power he has absolutely no understanding on how these things played out in the country’s post-independence.

In the Philippines the dictatorial Marcos was replaced by the less-but-still dictatorial Aquino.  All of the ruling class families and landlords under Marcos which made a profit off the backs of the peasants and working class in the Philippines under Marcos stayed in power.  The very same families oppressing the masses under Marcos were the very same families oppressing the masses post-EDSA I.  Not only that but Aquino was apart of one of the largest land-holding landlord families in the Philippines; you know, landlords, i.e., people who own land and then actually have peasants live on their land and then have those peasants work on their land and then take all the money the peasants produce on that land and keep it themselves.  A feudal lord is not exactly a shining example of progressivism now is it?

Not only that but since Marcos fell the U.S. has actually wrapped its capitalistic tentacles around the country even more, making it more dependent, and the trade debt within the country has skyrocketed.  Shows you how “informed” Schell is doesn’t it.

Not only that but this completely ignores the largest force in the Philippines that is aligned against the present ruling capitalist and feudal class in the Philippines; the peasant and farmer based New Peoples Army.  And yes, it uses violence as one of its many tools, white liberals beware!

  1. Saturday, January 17, 2009 2:51 am

    The other point to make about ‘non-violence’ in the Indian independence movement is how much the fear of the emergence of a mass armed movement, like the one that developed in Indonesia (suicide bombings and all), motivated the Brits.

    The predictable call for “a Palestinian Gandhi” has to be one of the worst liberal cliches concerning the conflict. It’s right up there with “peace won’t come ’til the Palestinians love their children more than they hate the Israelis, y’know”. It’s such a classic liberal ploy to focus on the violence of the oppressed to efface the violence of the oppressor.

  2. Sunday, January 18, 2009 1:16 am

    Yes indeed, great point, and great blog by the way. I added it to my google reader marxism section around last week or so.

  3. dksu permalink
    Tuesday, January 20, 2009 3:40 pm

    I don’t know much about Schell, but I definitely agree with the your conclusion that call for the ‘Palestinian Ghandi’ is plainly ridiculous, and find the liberal condemnation of violence used by the poor against the powerful at best a product of ignorance and at worst a tool used to justify atrocity.

    But I have to say, some of my best and most progressive professors have been non-violentists – Mennonites, actually (not exactly revolutionaries, but very knowledgeable and experienced people, whose analyses I usually find pretty honest). There’s definitely no way you could consider these people unwilling shills for the powerful, capitalism, etc. ;p. In fact, they don’t really explicitly condemn the use of violence by the oppressed and exploited – I would say that they just believe that non-violence is, in most cases, both tactically and morally more acceptable (a questionable if not false conclusion), and try to argue their case. Very much in the tradition of the real Martin Luther King (as opposed to the fairy tale MLK peddled by the media).

    I’m just saying that my experience has been that some non-violentists are worth listening to, even if we disagree with them on the topic of non-violence (ones who call for the emergence of a ‘Palestinian Ghandi’, obviously, are not worth listening to ;p).

  4. Saturday, January 31, 2009 6:27 am

    I’m just saying that my experience has been that some non-violentists are worth listening to, even if we disagree with them on the topic of non-violence

    Very much agreed.

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