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Emancipation from Incongruity: An Introduction

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Part I, Part II.

Sandinista

To start off the third part in this series I will simply comment on a few key phrases that Brie writes about in the latest book of the Socialist Register.

Brie conjures up some of the more basic arguments for the use of violence (which aren’t bad, by the way, it’s just that I hold a slightly more post-structuralist critique of non-violence and its Baudrillardian hyperréalité-esque imitation of 1960s non-violent civil rights protests; just me being all academicy and shit) in order to free the oppressed from the oppressors within this system of capitalism:

What is the purpose of non-violent blockades if they cannot enforce an ecological sea-change?  Why speak and criticize if we find that our arguments turn out to be toothless?  Are non-violent actions really more than narcissistic surrogate undertakings without any consequences for the First Class passengers on the Titanic?

The reality, so states Brie on his take of why certain folks critique non-violent action, is that in:

the past six years more children have died globally as a result of starvation and preventable diseases than humans perished in the six years of the Second World War.  Every three seconds a human life that just began ceases to exist in a cruel way.  At the same time in these same three seconds $120,000 are being spent on military armaments world wide…

Günther Anders called:

for the adoption of counter-violence.  In the interests of ‘future world peace and the continued existence of the human species’, he argued, it was necessary ‘to consider the transition from protest to self-defence and from self-defence to a counter-attack’.

Introducing the next section and getting to the core of his argument Brie states:

“is violence in the last instance not the only radical means to bring about radical change?  In the history of the left, has the renunciation of violence not also entailed in practice a renunciation of the goal of changing society fundamentally?

Has not all of the reforms within Europe, America, and other parts of the world (with its path toward a fully realized global economy), really not:

been anything more than an excuse, because one could not or did not want to resort to violence?

For Brie, the answers to these questions result in him fully rejecting violence (kinda) as a resort to implement social change and as a tool to be used by the oppressed to free themselves.  Brie will argue throughout the essay that in reality, non-violence is not a compromise to the status quo and in fact results in a view of the world where change not only is possible but change is fully realized within a movement that uses non-violent means to take power due to the fact that it rejects the contemporary notion of violence essentially being integrated into the everyday interactions of society.

Brie comes up with some very good examples of why counter-violence is necessary in these first section but at the same time I believe that a total rejection (or near rejection) of violence on some of the grounds he makes throughout the article are a little wobbly on one level or another, but, at the same time, he makes some great points that folks on the radical left should engage in unflinchingly.

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