Friday, July 9, 2010

My comments on "Non-violence as a principle" debate from Mondoweiss


A few days ago Phil Weiss' Mondoweiss blog had a gigantic post from a Matt Taylor who had made a running critique of several previous posts on the topic. It was sort of a meta-rebuttal in defense of his idea of prinicpled non-violence. In my view his whole world view and,much worse, his views on specifc actions, is at best idiot nonsense. At worst (and he can get worser and worser) he's giving aid and comfort to oppressors (his remarks on the Mavi Mamara massacre are the worst).

There were (and they are still coming) scores of comments on this subject. Some of them were good, some bad, some incoherent and some were very good. I don't envy Phil or Adam having to monitor the reader's comments section. It must be really tedious. are my few postings. It should be easy to pick up the context of what I am replying (or ranting) to. Also I have edited them a bit to correct grammar and to make some points a bit clearer.

first post

Richard Congress July 6, 2010 at 9:01 pm
Matthew Taylor’s posting/ running argument for his brand of nonviolence against activists who disagree with him, and who also happen to live in the real world, are really, really awful.
He is putting forth a holier than thou bunch of mystical drivel that is a CANCER on oppressed peoples’ struggles for liberation.
Do I sound too harsh? Am I too dismissive of the, to paraphrase, the years of alleged scholarship on Ghandi and nonviolence? No not at all.

Why do I say it is a cancer? Because it is a utopian, debilitating doctrine that always gives the benefit of the doubt to the oppressors and denigrates those who fight back for their rights. Usurpers always like to state that they are defending law and order and that any insurgency is illegitimate unless it is properly “peaceful.”

How many times have we heard pro-zionist defenders of Israeli state terrorism ask in dismay, “where is the Palestinian Ghandi?” They are violence-baiting any opposition to Israeli violence.if a real Ghandi presented himself to the IDF they would promptly shoot him in the head.

It looks like the pacifists in our movement are acting like a fifth column. (is this too incendiary? I’m very, very pissed off and have had it with haughty lectures from “principled pacifists.”)

The criticisms of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara who were under murderous armed attack by a remorseless IDF commando unit are nauseating. Taylor would have them wearing saffron robes and chanting OMMMM, or something. The use of Hindu religious jargon to criticize the vetting of the passengers is more evidence of the fantasy-land nature of this kind of church dogma style pacifism.

There has never been a successful major social change or victory of the downtrodden scored via any so-called principled philosophy of non-violence. Not in India where there was an armed movement. Fear of mass violence always plays a role in an usurper yeilding formal power in the face of the mass opposition of an invaded populace. Besides,look at India now, in spite of formal independence, and the high-tech enrichment of a modest to small sized sector of the population, it’s a disaster of poverty and theft of land from destitute peasants. (see Ahrundati Roy’s article “talking with the comrades” about the armed resistance of these peasants–resistance which is the only thing keeping them from losing everything.)

The civil rights movement in the US used very practical tactics of mass mobilizations and passive resistance. This fitted both the goal and political environment. The goal was not socialist revolution to turn society upside down. It was to eradicate Jim Crow, to win formal democratic equal rights. that goal was won, by and large. Of course any democratic right has to be constantly defended as we have seen with the Nixon Southern Strategy beginning in 1968 in which these gains have been chipped away, along with other things like labor rights, and checks on corporate power.

A big factor in the civil right struggle was the popularity of Malcom X and the later ghetto rebellions. These were not planned acts of violence; they were uprisings provoked by police sadism and wanton brutality. They played a constructive role in gaining social programs. The government had to respond in some way, and not with just more force. Some valuable social programs to help the destitute and open up opportunities for jobs and education were instituted. Now many of then have been taken back or downsized. It just shows that it's a constant struggle in this economic and political system.

Taylor should look up the history of the Deacons for Defense in the south. They stopped KKK raids into black neighborhoods by showing up with shotguns and rifles to protect civil rights leaders who were threatened with attacks by the Klan on their homes.
The Deacons were not the only such group during that period. They also played a constructive role in the movement. I doubt that anyone in their neighborhood berated them for not understanding Hindu teachings on nonviolence.

Finally, there is the issue of winning over the Israeli people…I suppose by not scaring them too much. I’m not going to say much about that. It’s just another example of the oh so moralistic pacifists catering to the oppressor. And yes, most of the Israeli Jews are the oppressors. Can they be persuaded? Don’t count on it. And don’t base all of your plans for the Palestinian struggle for their rights on pleasing the colonizers.

second post

Richard Congress July 7, 2010 at 7:07 am
Non-Violence as a principle is a metaphysical, philosophically idealist (idealist in the sense of non-materialist) form of religious belief. It begins from unprovable (or untestable in the real world) dogmas and then filters what ever happens in the world through this dismisses anything that doesn’t support its unprovable first principles. That is to say it’s a scam, like all religions and many secular ideologies.
Was Ghandi a Ghandist? Marx, irritated at the antics of some of his followers, said “I am not a Marxist.” The tactics, strategies, end goals, etc. have to be evaluated in this world and this life. Pacifism can’t do this because it is other worldly and takes as good coin the unprovable (or propositions that cannot be empirically tested). It’s like a biologist arguing with a creationist.

third post

Richard Congress July 8, 2010 at 9:29 am
“The entire world, especially Europe and Russia, must give Israelis and the Jewish people some sort of of ultimate, clear, final, and comprehensive apology for centuries of persecution, and some kind of collective assurance of ‘Never again’”! [Matthew Taylor]

There have been apologies ad infinitum for the Holocaust for decades. Misplaced reparations from Germany to Israel in the billions, on and on. It’s been converted into a world wide cult of philo-semitism.

And the Zionists will never be satisfied. They love everyone cringing and apologizing forever. They love it. And there will be no end of disgusting schmucks like Dershowitz, Netanyahu, Schumer, Weisel etc. demanding more apologies. It gives them permanent moral superiority and a cover for Israel to commit any crime it can get away with. The Holocaust is three generations in the past, but it STILL serves a useful purpose to justify Israeli ethnic cleansing.
Neither the Palestinian people, nor the Arabs (and Turks) as a whole own the Jews any apology for the atrocities of the Europeans.

Where did the Jews expelled from Spain go to? They went to the protection of the Ottoman Empire.
Enough already with this harping on the world’s guilt for the Holocaust! Other people have suffered ethnic/racial/religious oppression and campaigns of extermination.

Apologists for Zionism’s reactionary, and intrinsic impulse towards expulsion and (if they can get away with it) extermination of Palestinians will never stop invoking the Holocaust. Waving the bloody shirt of victimization has been their trump card in trying to silence any criticism of Israel.

Those Jews who belong to a synagogue or other Jewish organizations have been brain washed with the story of the history of the world centering around Jewish victimhood. And they have been taught a contempt for any other people who also claim to have been oppressed, and they have been taught paranoia and racist hatred against Islam and all Arabs. They have to unlearn this poisonous propaganda.

When I had to got to temple in the 1950s (after my bar-mitzvah I was free) there was none of this going on. When I returned to the same temple (in Indianapolis) twenty years later for one of my nephew’s bar-mitzvah I was stunned to see a big “Holocaust Resource Center” had been built on and that the whole synagogue and service had been radicalized with crude, full-throated Israeli nationalism.


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