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(en) Workers Solidarity #75 - Thinking about Anarchism - What is violence and who says so?

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 2 Apr 2003 10:08:41 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

One of the most interesting arguments from
within and, interestingly from without, the
growing anti-war movement is on the use
of violence. Typically, the argument takes
this form: anti-war protests are peace
protests, therefor they must be peaceful.
Further, these self-appointed arbitrators
within and without the movement have
extremely tight definitions of what is and
what isn't peaceful.

All this leads to some fundamental questions.
Firstly, what constitutes violence? Almost
everyone agrees that the mass "shock and awe"
carpet bombing of people living in Baghdad is
violence. Likewise shooting or injuring a person is

But does pulling down a fence constitute
violence? Many argue that such minor property
damage can not be seen as violent.

Anarchists favour mass direct against the war.
Opinion polls and massive demonstrations have
shown that the majority in Ireland are completely
against this war. The last Irish Times poll found
that 54% wanted the Shannon refueling ended -
even if the war received UN support.

The next step is to take action, getting large
numbers to Shannon where it counts. We favour
mass, peaceful, direct action capable of
mobilising enough of the massive public support
to make it impossible to continue refueling US
military planes. Violence is of no use to us here.

Anyway, we must be completely honest and
realistic. Any violence from anti-war people would
easily be faced down with well organised violence
from the state forces. Our advantage is in
numbers and determination, not in training and

Should we always be peaceful? What about
anarchism in general? For us, the most thorough
and successful revolution will be the most
peaceful one. When the majority are won over to
the idea of a completely new way of running the
world it should not be too hard to achieve it.

However, we are not ideological pacifists. No
ruling class in all of human history has ever
quietly surrendered its power and wealth.
Violence may well be needed to defend a
successful revolution from the old ruling class. If
anything is to learnt from past revolutions it is
that the penalty for failure is usually death.

Counter revolutions are bloody and vicious. The
mass graves of the Communards of Paris or the
leftists slaughtered by Saddam's Ba'athists (after
the CIA helped them to power) bear silent
witness to this fact.

We may have to fight to defend ourselves and the
new society we want to help create. But violence
should be absolutely minimised. It is not
something any reasonable person takes pleasure
in &endash; it should always be a last resort.
There is no place in the anarchist movement for
those who glory in violence and carnage.

Any violence necessary to defend an anarchist
society would be tiny and marginal compared to
the violence routinely meted out every day by
capitalism. When billions of dollars are readily
available for warplanes and cluster bombs we
should remember that our rulers never seem to
be able to find the same sort of money for famine
relief, clean water or basic health care. Every day
24,000 people die of hunger around the world.
Who then are the violent ones?
Conor Mc Loughlin

This page is from the print version of the
Irish Anarchist paper 'Workers Solidarity'.

Print out the PDF file of this issue

Print out the PDF file of the most recent issue

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