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Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson

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  • Mark Rudd
    Hi John: I ve been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence. Hilton especially urged me to do so. But I
    Message 1 of 12 , Feb 9, 2011
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      Hi John:  I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence.  Hilton especially urged me to do so.  But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore another case study for nonviolence.  Of course things are never that simple.  Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."

      Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the fact that he was obviously insane.  I like to think that I wasn't 42 years ago.  (But there's always that gray line).

      The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being historic.  Each one deserves closer attention.  Let's take, for example, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.  While these have rightly been held up as heroic exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever noted:  the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely collaborationist Judenrat.  The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto").  The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive.  The irony of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out, as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.  Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration?  I don't know.  But survival is not that bad a goal.  It has some useful strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.

      I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.  I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy response.

      Just one point for our discussion:  the right of self-defense covers a lot of sins.  It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir Square, to defend themselves against goons.  If a cop were beating me I'd certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows.  In Mississippi armed black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay.  But this is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy."  The Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent.  The goal was to split whites nationally, and it worked.  The same can be said for the gay movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a nonviolent movement and has been successful as such.  But the Panthers and Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always lose in this context.  Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic.  It may have done a lot for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.

      I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument?  Or are they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?

      My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the right to self-defense."  You seem to be arging for that, too.

      Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends to unite the enemy, never a good strategy.  It also turns off friends.  On the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the govt. went on the attack.  So the only base that was left to them was the white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che Guevara, etc., which was no base at all.  Huey Newton realized this in 1970 when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even talking self-defense.  The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was disaster as well.  But the main point is that the former or potential black base evaporated because black people don't want to die.  "Revolutionary Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple meanings) is a horrible mass line.

      As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians.  Another strategic mistake.  (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the militarism for what it is).  The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.

      One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be humiliated.  Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks.  Absolutely ridiculous.

      And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David Hilliard).  What a waste.  Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was revolutionary self-defense.  

      Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison MARC) when people resort to violence.  
      Better to keep it nonviolent.  People will be hurt or die both ways, but at least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right to self-defense." 

      Does any of this make sense?  Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people what to do and what not to do?  

      Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military, which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood.  We were extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides).  I believe his line was "stop the killing."

      When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go out and murder other people.  Feh.

      Love,








      On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
       

      In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,

      I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.  
      At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
      However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred tactic, but not the only sole form of action.

      Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force, including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
      The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
       
      In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.  At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion.  This rebellion changed history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through such resistance.

      The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate means and actions against oppression.  While I agree with Mark, that those who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid sole way to make real lasting change.  But the examples I give above of rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.

      Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and those who fought against the Confederacy and the
      Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be declared as unacceptable. 

      The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they themselves alone can not change what they oppose.  They turn to individual violence.  Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence.  The Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and not my enemy.  The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and greed.

      John O'Brien
         


      To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
      From: obenzinger@...
      Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
      Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson


    • John Obrien
      Mark, Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you
      Message 2 of 12 , Feb 10, 2011
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        Mark,
         
        Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you were and are my comrade!
        I will be happy to give you time to fully respond.  As a former pacifist when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the SPU, I recognize your concerns and
        truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to non-violence.  However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not.  I do not say my pacifist friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT should it be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self defense.  I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes and will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me.  I will resist and not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be proud and stand up and not be a victim.
         
        Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass protests planned following Islamic prayers.  We can hope that those involved will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND to set up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic.  It may be possible and be an incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding.  But throughout history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have nonviolently resisted their oppression. 
         
        I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in various camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay alive for their own personal well being.
        However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about not only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence (partisan and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other than by non-violent means.     
         
        It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it has taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of injustices - that it MUST always be that way.  I am not suggesting that.  I am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer non-violence as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in physical form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY.  It certainly was to bring an end to so many despots.  However, short term changes in governments and events have been won with non-violence by those seeking change.  Very often the rulers in these events have used violence, but were still defeated.  Many other times those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently.  This is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use force when needed to defend myself and others.
         
        I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers in absolute non-violence.  However, there are times when another way needs to be done, to make positive change.  If I did not help instigate violence against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much notice.  Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against the police in New York and a number of other localities around the world - BUT it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows, attacking police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that CREATED immediate change in consciousness for many and
        willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.  This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
         
        I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through Black communities were stopped because of non-violence.  I believe it is because they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more and more after WWII.  Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones cause and issues, taking the high road against injustice.  The KKK had NO RESPECT OR CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its enemies.  They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they could get away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not just willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched and hurt.  The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known group, but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante terror with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE.  It was not the nonviolent demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights access issues.  The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK and individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack Black people in their communities BOTH North and South.  The police were NOT a dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck people in the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most nations around the world and through history.  The police SUPPORTED the ruling dicatators.  The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were in uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes attacking the demonstrators days later.  The protesters formed self defense groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it was NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to see and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be truly historic!)
         
        I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have time to respond to my points.
        As always - your comrade.
         
        Love,
         
        John O'Brien
         
         
         

        Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
        Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson
        From: mark@...
        To: causecollector@...; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
        CC: hobnzngr@...; BOCO4E@...

        Hi John:  I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence.  Hilton especially urged me to do so.  But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore another case study for nonviolence.  Of course things are never that simple.  Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."

        Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the fact that he was obviously insane.  I like to think that I wasn't 42 years ago.  (But there's always that gray line).

        The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being historic.  Each one deserves closer attention.  Let's take, for example, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.  While these have rightly been held up as heroic exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever noted:  the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely collaborationist Judenrat.  The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto").  The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive.  The irony of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out, as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.  Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration?  I don't know.  But survival is not that bad a goal.  It has some useful strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.

        I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.  I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy response.

        Just one point for our discussion:  the right of self-defense covers a lot of sins.  It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir Square, to defend themselves against goons.  If a cop were beating me I'd certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows.  In Mississippi armed black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay.  But this is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy."  The Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent.  The goal was to split whites nationally, and it worked.  The same can be said for the gay movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a nonviolent movement and has been successful as such.  But the Panthers and Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always lose in this context.  Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic.  It may have done a lot for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.

        I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument?  Or are they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?

        My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the right to self-defense."  You seem to be arging for that, too.

        Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends to unite the enemy, never a good strategy.  It also turns off friends.  On the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the govt. went on the attack.  So the only base that was left to them was the white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che Guevara, etc., which was no base at all.  Huey Newton realized this in 1970 when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even talking self-defense.  The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was disaster as well.  But the main point is that the former or potential black base evaporated because black people don't want to die.  "Revolutionary Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple meanings) is a horrible mass line.

        As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians.  Another strategic mistake.  (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the militarism for what it is).  The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.

        One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be humiliated.  Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks.  Absolutely ridiculous.

        And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David Hilliard).  What a waste.  Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was revolutionary self-defense.  

        Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison MARC) when people resort to violence.  
        Better to keep it nonviolent.  People will be hurt or die both ways, but at least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right to self-defense." 

        Does any of this make sense?  Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people what to do and what not to do?  

        Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military, which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood.  We were extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides).  I believe his line was "stop the killing."

        When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go out and murder other people.  Feh.

        Love,








        On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
         
        In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,

        I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.  
        At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
        However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred tactic, but not the only sole form of action.

        Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force, including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
        The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
         
        In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.  At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion.  This rebellion changed history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through such resistance.

        The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate means and actions against oppression.  While I agree with Mark, that those who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid sole way to make real lasting change.  But the examples I give above of rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.

        Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and those who fought against the Confederacy and the
        Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be declared as unacceptable. 

        The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they themselves alone can not change what they oppose.  They turn to individual violence.  Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence.  The Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and not my enemy.  The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and greed.

        John O'Brien
           



        To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
        From: obenzinger@...
        Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
        Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson

      • Mark Rudd
        John: You re absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall. Thinking about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a pattern can
        Message 3 of 12 , Feb 13, 2011
        • 0 Attachment
          John:  You're absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall.  Thinking about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a pattern can be discerned in the growth of movements involving initial defensive violence, followed by a long period of nonviolent struggle.  After Stonewall, decades of nonviolent struggle ensued.  After the initial Zapatista armed takeovers, most all of the succeeding offensive and defensive actions of the movement were nonviolent.  The 1999 Seattle WTO demonstrations were followed by numerous substantially nonviolent international demonstrations for global justice.  That's three.  

          Concerning the use of defensive arms in the South:  Charles M. Payne, in his brilliant study of the Mississippi freedom movement, "I've Got the Light of Freedom," says that lynching and other terrorist attacks almost immediately abated when the national news media shined their light on Mississippi.  The beginning of the end for the terrorists was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a nationally publicized event, but whenever local violence was exposed in the national media, including the 1964 slaying of the three civil rights workers, the terror died down.  It was as if the local ruling structure used both the police and irregular forces (as in Egypt) to impose terror, but when they decided to back down, the terror lessened.  They turned it off because the costs to them were too great.  And I don't think those costs had to do with an occasional KKK guy getting blown away.  

          In this discussion I haven't used any moral or spiritual arguments, though I believe strongly that such arguments exist.  I've only argued out of pragmatism.  I do wish you'd address the arguments I made concerning the self-defeating nature of "revolutionary violence:" the isolation, the arming of the enemy, the errors.

          I believe our debate to be important because a handful of young activists in certain movements such as environmental and animal rights have in the last decade decided that "direct action" is useful.  Many of them have landed in prison and the movements have been unnecessarily tainted as "terrorist" by the government.  For example, there's a law concerning "Animal Enterprise Terrorism" which defines terrorism as the loss of $10,000 or more to a company or organization dealing with animals.  Right now six people are in federal prison for "conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism."  (Huntingdon Life Sciences case).  Their crime was using computers to organize a secondary boycott, which historically has been considered a nonviolent tactic.

          My point is that there is no such thing as "diversity of tactics."  A tiny group of people claiming "the right of self-defense" undermines the work of hundreds of thousands of others who have for sound strategic reasons proclaimed our movement to be nonviolent.  I often tell young people that anyone who advocates violence is either very very stupid or a cop or both.  Sorry for the implication of disrespect:  I need to draw a clear line.  However, I do recognize that my position is not that effective, since most of the kids I talk with are instantly turned off by my evident disrespect, not being used to that level of criticism.  Perhaps I need to pat them on the head and tell them how well-meaning they are but that I respectfully disagree.

          Speaking of respect, the fact that we listen to each other is the absolute highest form of respect possible.

          Long live the memory of the martyrs of Tahrir Square!  And on and on.

          M

          On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
          Mark,
           
          Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you were and are my comrade!
          I will be happy to give you time to fully respond.  As a former pacifist when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the SPU, I recognize your concerns and
          truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to non-violence.  However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not.  I do not say my pacifist friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT should it be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self defense.  I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes and will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me.  I will resist and not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be proud and stand up and not be a victim.
           
          Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass protests planned following Islamic prayers.  We can hope that those involved will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND to set up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic.  It may be possible and be an incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding.  But throughout history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have nonviolently resisted their oppression. 
           
          I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in various camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay alive for their own personal well being.
          However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about not only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence (partisan and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other than by non-violent means.     
           
          It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it has taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of injustices - that it MUST always be that way.  I am not suggesting that.  I am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer non-violence as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in physical form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY.  It certainly was to bring an end to so many despots.  However, short term changes in governments and events have been won with non-violence by those seeking change.  Very often the rulers in these events have used violence, but were still defeated.  Many other times those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently.  This is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use force when needed to defend myself and others.
           
          I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers in absolute non-violence.  However, there are times when another way needs to be done, to make positive change.  If I did not help instigate violence against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much notice.  Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against the police in New York and a number of other localities around the world - BUT it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows, attacking police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that CREATED immediate change in consciousness for many and
          willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.  This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
           
          I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through Black communities were stopped because of non-violence.  I believe it is because they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more and more after WWII.  Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones cause and issues, taking the high road against injustice.  The KKK had NO RESPECT OR CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its enemies.  They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they could get away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not just willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched and hurt.  The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known group, but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante terror with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE.  It was not the nonviolent demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights access issues.  The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK and individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack Black people in their communities BOTH North and South.  The police were NOT a dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck people in the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most nations around the world and through history.  The police SUPPORTED the ruling dicatators.  The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were in uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes attacking the demonstrators days later.  The protesters formed self defense groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it was NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to see and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be truly historic!)
           
          I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have time to respond to my points.
          As always - your comrade.
           
          Love,
           
          John O'Brien
           
           
           

          Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
          Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson
          From: mark@...
          To: causecollector@...; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
          CC: hobnzngr@...; BOCO4E@...


          Hi John:  I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence.  Hilton especially urged me to do so.  But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore another case study for nonviolence.  Of course things are never that simple.  Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."

          Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the fact that he was obviously insane.  I like to think that I wasn't 42 years ago.  (But there's always that gray line).

          The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being historic.  Each one deserves closer attention.  Let's take, for example, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.  While these have rightly been held up as heroic exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever noted:  the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely collaborationist Judenrat.  The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto").  The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive.  The irony of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out, as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.  Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration?  I don't know.  But survival is not that bad a goal.  It has some useful strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.

          I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.  I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy response.

          Just one point for our discussion:  the right of self-defense covers a lot of sins.  It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir Square, to defend themselves against goons.  If a cop were beating me I'd certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows.  In Mississippi armed black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay.  But this is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy."  The Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent.  The goal was to split whites nationally, and it worked.  The same can be said for the gay movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a nonviolent movement and has been successful as such.  But the Panthers and Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always lose in this context.  Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic.  It may have done a lot for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.

          I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument?  Or are they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?

          My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the right to self-defense."  You seem to be arging for that, too.

          Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends to unite the enemy, never a good strategy.  It also turns off friends.  On the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the govt. went on the attack.  So the only base that was left to them was the white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che Guevara, etc., which was no base at all.  Huey Newton realized this in 1970 when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even talking self-defense.  The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was disaster as well.  But the main point is that the former or potential black base evaporated because black people don't want to die.  "Revolutionary Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple meanings) is a horrible mass line.

          As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians.  Another strategic mistake.  (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the militarism for what it is).  The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.

          One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be humiliated.  Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks.  Absolutely ridiculous.

          And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David Hilliard).  What a waste.  Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was revolutionary self-defense.  

          Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison MARC) when people resort to violence.  
          Better to keep it nonviolent.  People will be hurt or die both ways, but at least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right to self-defense." 

          Does any of this make sense?  Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people what to do and what not to do?  

          Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military, which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood.  We were extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides).  I believe his line was "stop the killing."

          When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go out and murder other people.  Feh.

          Love,








          On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
           
          In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,

          I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.  
          At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
          However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred tactic, but not the only sole form of action.

          Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force, including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
          The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
           
          In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.  At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion.  This rebellion changed history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through such resistance.

          The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate means and actions against oppression.  While I agree with Mark, that those who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid sole way to make real lasting change.  But the examples I give above of rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.

          Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and those who fought against the Confederacy and the
          Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be declared as unacceptable. 

          The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they themselves alone can not change what they oppose.  They turn to individual violence.  Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence.  The Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and not my enemy.  The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and greed.

          John O'Brien
             



          To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
          From: obenzinger@...
          Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
          Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson


        • Thomas Wm. Hamilton
          Our fellow Columbia grad, Isaac Asimov 40GS, put it much more simply: Violence is the final refuge of the incompetent To: causecollector@msn.com CC:
          Message 4 of 12 , Feb 13, 2011
          • 0 Attachment


            Our fellow Columbia grad, Isaac Asimov '40GS, put it much more simply:  "Violence is the final refuge of the incompetent"

             



            To: causecollector@...
            CC: cu68-08event@yahoogroups.com; hobnzngr@...; boco4e@...
            From: mark@...
            Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2011 17:33:57 -0700
            Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson

             
            John:  You're absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall.  Thinking about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a pattern can be discerned in the growth of movements involving initial defensive violence, followed by a long period of nonviolent struggle.  After Stonewall, decades of nonviolent struggle ensued.  After the initial Zapatista armed takeovers, most all of the succeeding offensive and defensive actions of the movement were nonviolent.  The 1999 Seattle WTO demonstrations were followed by numerous substantially nonviolent international demonstrations for global justice.  That's three.  

            Concerning the use of defensive arms in the South:  Charles M. Payne, in his brilliant study of the Mississippi freedom movement, "I've Got the Light of Freedom," says that lynching and other terrorist attacks almost immediately abated when the national news media shined their light on Mississippi.  The beginning of the end for the terrorists was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a nationally publicized event, but whenever local violence was exposed in the national media, including the 1964 slaying of the three civil rights workers, the terror died down.  It was as if the local ruling structure used both the police and irregular forces (as in Egypt) to impose terror, but when they decided to back down, the terror lessened.  They turned it off because the costs to them were too great.  And I don't think those costs had to do with an occasional KKK guy getting blown away.  

            In this discussion I haven't used any moral or spiritual arguments, though I believe strongly that such arguments exist.  I've only argued out of pragmatism.  I do wish you'd address the arguments I made concerning the self-defeating nature of "revolutionary violence:" the isolation, the arming of the enemy, the errors.

            I believe our debate to be important because a handful of young activists in certain movements such as environmental and animal rights have in the last decade decided that "direct action" is useful.  Many of them have landed in prison and the movements have been unnecessarily tainted as "terrorist" by the government.  For example, there's a law concerning "Animal Enterprise Terrorism" which defines terrorism as the loss of $10,000 or more to a company or organization dealing with animals.  Right now six people are in federal prison for "conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism."  (Huntingdon Life Sciences case).  Their crime was using computers to organize a secondary boycott, which historically has been considered a nonviolent tactic.

            My point is that there is no such thing as "diversity of tactics."  A tiny group of people claiming "the right of self-defense" undermines the work of hundreds of thousands of others who have for sound strategic reasons proclaimed our movement to be nonviolent.  I often tell young people that anyone who advocates violence is either very very stupid or a cop or both.  Sorry for the implication of disrespect:  I need to draw a clear line.  However, I do recognize that my position is not that effective, since most of the kids I talk with are instantly turned off by my evident disrespect, not being used to that level of criticism.  Perhaps I need to pat them on the head and tell them how well-meaning they are but that I respectfully disagree.

            Speaking of respect, the fact that we listen to each other is the absolute highest form of respect possible.

            Long live the memory of the martyrs of Tahrir Square!  And on and on.

            M

            On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
            Mark,
             
            Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you were and are my comrade!
            I will be happy to give you time to fully respond.  As a former pacifist when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the SPU, I recognize your concerns and
            truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to non-violence.  However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not.  I do not say my pacifist friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT should it be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self defense.  I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes and will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me.  I will resist and not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be proud and stand up and not be a victim.
             
            Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass protests planned following Islamic prayers.  We can hope that those involved will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND to set up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic.  It may be possible and be an incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding.  But throughout history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have nonviolently resisted their oppression. 
             
            I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in various camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay alive for their own personal well being.
            However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about not only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence (partisan and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other than by non-violent means.     
             
            It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it has taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of injustices - that it MUST always be that way.  I am not suggesting that.  I am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer non-violence as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in physical form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY.  It certainly was to bring an end to so many despots.  However, short term changes in governments and events have been won with non-violence by those seeking change.  Very often the rulers in these events have used violence, but were still defeated.  Many other times those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently.  This is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use force when needed to defend myself and others.
             
            I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers in absolute non-violence.  However, there are times when another way needs to be done, to make positive change.  If I did not help instigate violence against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much notice.  Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against the police in New York and a number of other localities around the world - BUT it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows, attacking police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that CREATED immediate change in consciousness for many and
            willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.  This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
             
            I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through Black communities were stopped because of non-violence.  I believe it is because they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more and more after WWII.  Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones cause and issues, taking the high road against injustice.  The KKK had NO RESPECT OR CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its enemies.  They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they could get away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not just willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched and hurt.  The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known group, but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante terror with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE.  It was not the nonviolent demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights access issues.  The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK and individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack Black people in their communities BOTH North and South.  The police were NOT a dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck people in the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most nations around the world and through history.  The police SUPPORTED the ruling dicatators.  The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were in uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes attacking the demonstrators days later.  The protesters formed self defense groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it was NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to see and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be truly historic!)
             
            I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have time to respond to my points.
            As always - your comrade.
             
            Love,
             
            John O'Brien
             
             
             

            Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
            Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson
            From: mark@...
            To: causecollector@...; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
            CC: hobnzngr@...; BOCO4E@...


            Hi John:  I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence.  Hilton especially urged me to do so.  But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore another case study for nonviolence.  Of course things are never that simple.  Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."

            Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the fact that he was obviously insane.  I like to think that I wasn't 42 years ago.  (But there's always that gray line).

            The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being historic.  Each one deserves closer attention.  Let's take, for example, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.  While these have rightly been held up as heroic exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever noted:  the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely collaborationist Judenrat.  The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto").  The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive.  The irony of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out, as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.  Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration?  I don't know.  But survival is not that bad a goal.  It has some useful strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.

            I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.  I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy response.

            Just one point for our discussion:  the right of self-defense covers a lot of sins.  It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir Square, to defend themselves against goons.  If a cop were beating me I'd certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows.  In Mississippi armed black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay.  But this is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy."  The Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent.  The goal was to split whites nationally, and it worked.  The same can be said for the gay movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a nonviolent movement and has been successful as such.  But the Panthers and Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always lose in this context.  Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic.  It may have done a lot for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.

            I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument?  Or are they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?

            My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the right to self-defense."  You seem to be arging for that, too.

            Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends to unite the enemy, never a good strategy.  It also turns off friends.  On the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the govt. went on the attack.  So the only base that was left to them was the white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che Guevara, etc., which was no base at all.  Huey Newton realized this in 1970 when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even talking self-defense.  The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was disaster as well.  But the main point is that the former or potential black base evaporated because black people don't want to die.  "Revolutionary Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple meanings) is a horrible mass line.

            As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians.  Another strategic mistake.  (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the militarism for what it is).  The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.

            One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be humiliated.  Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks.  Absolutely ridiculous.

            And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David Hilliard).  What a waste.  Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was revolutionary self-defense.  

            Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison MARC) when people resort to violence.  
            Better to keep it nonviolent.  People will be hurt or die both ways, but at least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right to self-defense." 

            Does any of this make sense?  Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people what to do and what not to do?  

            Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military, which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood.  We were extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides).  I believe his line was "stop the killing."

            When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go out and murder other people.  Feh.

            Love,








            On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
             
            In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,

            I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.  
            At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
            However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred tactic, but not the only sole form of action.

            Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force, including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
            The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
             
            In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.  At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion.  This rebellion changed history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through such resistance.

            The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate means and actions against oppression.  While I agree with Mark, that those who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid sole way to make real lasting change.  But the examples I give above of rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.

            Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and those who fought against the Confederacy and the
            Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be declared as unacceptable. 

            The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they themselves alone can not change what they oppose.  They turn to individual violence.  Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence.  The Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and not my enemy.  The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and greed.

            John O'Brien
               



            To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
            From: obenzinger@...
            Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
            Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson



          • Tom
            Mark, Perhaps I have not followed the exchange closely enough, but there seems to be a real mis-perception in your understanding of the events in Tahrir
            Message 5 of 12 , Feb 14, 2011
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              Mark,

              Perhaps I have not followed the exchange closely enough, but there seems to be a real mis-perception in your understanding of the events in Tahrir Square. This error may be crucial in the development of your argument. I was in Cairo and in the Square during several of the key days of the occupation. It is true that the ideological and practical envelope of the event was non-violent. As is made clear in The Times today, the young leadership (such as it was) was convinced of the efficacy of non-violence and dedicated to it. However, when the demonstrators in the Square were violently attacked by thousands of paid thugs, NDP party workers and friends -- after an hour or so of non-violently accepting injury and threatened defeat -- responded with controlled and disciplined violence. Short of firearms, they met the weapons of the counter-demonstrators, rocks for rocks, molotovs for molotovs, clubs for clubs. When the firing started, it was the army who forced the thugs back with machine guns.

              Earlier in the week, the demonstrators had forced their way into Tahrir by fighting the police -- who killed hundreds that night -- again using disciplined and controlled, but very real, violence. In fact, they burned the ruling party headquarters. Its burnt hulk stood as an emblem of rage at the brutality of the Mukhabarat, and spurred people onward.

              At the same time, the overwhelming practice of the demonstrators was disciplined non-violence, and constructive action. It was their example of dedicated civility and intelligent advocacy that convinced the army, and the watching world, that they must not be attacked. Because of this envelope of non-violent attitude, the people of Egypt and the world learned to trust them to become the future leaders -- in a way quite similar to the Civil Rights Struggle in the American South.

              What is to be learned here? I'd argue we get into trouble when a tactic is turned into a moral standard. Ideals like "the morality of non-violence." or "the right of self-defense" should not be assumed as commandments. This only cements our feet into rigid stances, and leaves us unable to meet the various twists and turns of historical events. The young people of Egypt did two things at the same time. They were non-violent in their approach, yet used self defense (at the right time, in the appropriate way!) to protect their movement from being crushed. They retained the suppleness of thinking and practice that allowed them adjust their tactics, without violating their basic non-violent approach.

              What will happen in the future in Egypt is still uncertain in the extreme. The army, as its interests are threatened, may turn from protector of the people to their attacker. And remember, it was the soldiers in the square who protected the demonstrators from a potential blood bath. It is clear that a non-violent, people-power approach can be very successful, up to a point. Clear also is that the people need, at times, to defend themselves.

              How all this will work out in the Middle East is beyond any real prediction. What is clear is that rigid ideals, waving the gun of self-defense, or the bloody shirt of non-violence as commandments, are self defeating.

              -- Tom

              --- In CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com, Mark Rudd <mark@...> wrote:
              >
              > John: You're absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall. Thinking
              > about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a
              > pattern can be discerned in the growth of movements involving initial
              > defensive violence, followed by a long period of nonviolent struggle. After
              > Stonewall, decades of nonviolent struggle ensued. After the initial
              > Zapatista armed takeovers, most all of the succeeding offensive and
              > defensive actions of the movement were nonviolent. The 1999 Seattle WTO
              > demonstrations were followed by numerous substantially nonviolent
              > international demonstrations for global justice. That's three.
              >
              > Concerning the use of defensive arms in the South: Charles M. Payne, in his
              > brilliant study of the Mississippi freedom movement, "I've Got the Light of
              > Freedom," says that lynching and other terrorist attacks almost immediately
              > abated when the national news media shined their light on Mississippi. The
              > beginning of the end for the terrorists was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till,
              > a nationally publicized event, but whenever local violence was exposed in
              > the national media, including the 1964 slaying of the three civil rights
              > workers, the terror died down. It was as if the local ruling structure used
              > both the police and irregular forces (as in Egypt) to impose terror, but
              > when they decided to back down, the terror lessened. They turned it off
              > because the costs to them were too great. And I don't think those costs had
              > to do with an occasional KKK guy getting blown away.
              >
              > In this discussion I haven't used any moral or spiritual arguments, though I
              > believe strongly that such arguments exist. I've only argued out of
              > pragmatism. I do wish you'd address the arguments I made concerning the
              > self-defeating nature of "revolutionary violence:" the isolation, the arming
              > of the enemy, the errors.
              >
              > I believe our debate to be important because a handful of young activists in
              > certain movements such as environmental and animal rights have in the last
              > decade decided that "direct action" is useful. Many of them have landed in
              > prison and the movements have been unnecessarily tainted as "terrorist" by
              > the government. For example, there's a law concerning "Animal Enterprise
              > Terrorism" which defines terrorism as the loss of $10,000 or more to a
              > company or organization dealing with animals. Right now six people are in
              > federal prison for "conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism."
              > (Huntingdon Life Sciences case). Their crime was using computers to
              > organize a secondary boycott, which historically has been considered a
              > nonviolent tactic.
              >
              > My point is that there is no such thing as "diversity of tactics." A tiny
              > group of people claiming "the right of self-defense" undermines the work of
              > hundreds of thousands of others who have for sound strategic reasons
              > proclaimed our movement to be nonviolent. I often tell young people that
              > anyone who advocates violence is either very very stupid or a cop or both.
              > Sorry for the implication of disrespect: I need to draw a clear line.
              > However, I do recognize that my position is not that effective, since most
              > of the kids I talk with are instantly turned off by my evident disrespect,
              > not being used to that level of criticism. Perhaps I need to pat them on
              > the head and tell them how well-meaning they are but that I respectfully
              > disagree.
              >
              > Speaking of respect, the fact that we listen to each other is the absolute
              > highest form of respect possible.
              >
              > Long live the memory of the martyrs of Tahrir Square! And on and on.
              >
              > M
              >
              > On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
              >
              > > Mark,
              > >
              > > Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on
              > > tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you
              > > were and are my comrade!
              > > I will be happy to give you time to fully respond. As a former pacifist
              > > when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the SPU,
              > > I recognize your concerns and
              > > truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to
              > > non-violence. However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall
              > > Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that
              > > lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not. I do not say my pacifist
              > > friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT should it
              > > be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self
              > > defense. I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes and
              > > will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me. I will resist and
              > > not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be proud and
              > > stand up and not be a victim.
              > >
              > > Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in
              > > Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass
              > > protests planned following Islamic prayers. We can hope that those involved
              > > will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND to set
              > > up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic. It may be possible and be an
              > > incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding. But throughout
              > > history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to
              > > recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have nonviolently
              > > resisted their oppression.
              > >
              > > I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in various
              > > camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay alive for
              > > their own personal well being.
              > > However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about not
              > > only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but
              > > other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence (partisan
              > > and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other than
              > > by non-violent means.
              > >
              > > It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it has
              > > taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of
              > > injustices - that it MUST always be that way. I am not suggesting that. I
              > > am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer non-violence
              > > as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in physical
              > > form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY. It certainly was to bring an end to so many
              > > despots. However, short term changes in governments and events have been
              > > won with non-violence by those seeking change. Very often the rulers in
              > > these events have used violence, but were still defeated. Many other times
              > > those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently. This
              > > is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use
              > > force when needed to defend myself and others.
              > >
              > > I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers in
              > > absolute non-violence. However, there are times when another way needs to
              > > be done, to make positive change. If I did not help instigate violence
              > > against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had
              > > always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much notice.
              > > Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against the
              > > police in New York and a number of other localities around the world - BUT
              > > it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows, attacking
              > > police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that CREATED
              > > immediate change in consciousness for many and
              > > willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.
              > > This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall
              > > Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
              > >
              > > I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through Black
              > > communities were stopped because of non-violence. I believe it is because
              > > they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more and
              > > more after WWII. Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a
              > > wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones cause and
              > > issues, taking the high road against injustice. The KKK had NO RESPECT OR
              > > CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its enemies.
              > > They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they could get
              > > away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not just
              > > willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched and
              > > hurt. The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known group,
              > > but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante terror
              > > with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE. It was not the nonviolent
              > > demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights
              > > access issues. The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK and
              > > individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack Black
              > > people in their communities BOTH North and South. The police were NOT a
              > > dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck people in
              > > the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most nations
              > > around the world and through history. The police SUPPORTED the ruling
              > > dicatators. The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of
              > > history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently
              > > when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were in
              > > uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes
              > > attacking the demonstrators days later. The protesters formed self defense
              > > groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on
              > > to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it was
              > > NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to see
              > > and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be truly
              > > historic!)
              > >
              > > I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have
              > > time to respond to my points.
              > > As always - your comrade.
              > >
              > > Love,
              > >
              > > John O'Brien
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > ------------------------------
              > > Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
              > > Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake
              > > of Tucson
              > > From: mark@...
              > > To: causecollector@...; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
              > > CC: hobnzngr@...; BOCO4E@...
              > >
              > >
              > > Hi John: I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful
              > > rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence. Hilton especially urged me to do so.
              > > But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each
              > > day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore
              > > another case study for nonviolence. Of course things are never that simple.
              > > Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."
              > >
              > > Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the
              > > Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both
              > > premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the
              > > fact that he was obviously insane. I like to think that I wasn't 42 years
              > > ago. (But there's always that gray line).
              > >
              > > The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being
              > > historic. Each one deserves closer attention. Let's take, for example, the
              > > Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings. While these have rightly been held up as heroic
              > > exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever
              > > noted: the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely
              > > collaborationist Judenrat. The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the
              > > Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death
              > > camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of
              > > the Lodz Ghetto"). The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz
              > > made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive. The irony
              > > of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out,
              > > as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.
              > > Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration? I
              > > don't know. But survival is not that bad a goal. It has some useful
              > > strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.
              > >
              > > I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.
              > > I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy
              > > response.
              > >
              > > Just one point for our discussion: the right of self-defense covers a lot
              > > of sins. It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir
              > > Square, to defend themselves against goons. If a cop were beating me I'd
              > > certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows. In Mississippi armed
              > > black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay. But this
              > > is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy." The
              > > Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent. The goal was
              > > to split whites nationally, and it worked. The same can be said for the gay
              > > movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a
              > > nonviolent movement and has been successful as such. But the Panthers and
              > > Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our
              > > friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with
              > > "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always
              > > lose in this context. Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in
              > > thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic. It may have done a lot
              > > for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.
              > >
              > > I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument? Or are
              > > they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?
              > >
              > > My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the
              > > right to self-defense." You seem to be arging for that, too.
              > >
              > > Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends
              > > to unite the enemy, never a good strategy. It also turns off friends. On
              > > the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and
              > > elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the
              > > govt. went on the attack. So the only base that was left to them was the
              > > white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che
              > > Guevara, etc., which was no base at all. Huey Newton realized this in 1970
              > > when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by
              > > then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even
              > > talking self-defense. The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was
              > > disaster as well. But the main point is that the former or potential black
              > > base evaporated because black people don't want to die. "Revolutionary
              > > Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple
              > > meanings) is a horrible mass line.
              > >
              > > As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in
              > > Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual
              > > rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and
              > > their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians. Another
              > > strategic mistake. (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent
              > > tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the
              > > militarism for what it is). The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and
              > > sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.
              > >
              > > One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly
              > > a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be
              > > humiliated. Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks. Absolutely
              > > ridiculous.
              > >
              > > And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of
              > > self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David
              > > Hilliard). What a waste. Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison
              > > for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was
              > > revolutionary self-defense.
              > >
              > > Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison
              > > MARC) when people resort to violence.
              > > Better to keep it nonviolent. People will be hurt or die both ways, but at
              > > least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right
              > > to self-defense."
              > >
              > > Does any of this make sense? Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people
              > > what to do and what not to do?
              > >
              > > Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military,
              > > which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for
              > > Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood. We were
              > > extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as
              > > proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides). I believe his line
              > > was "stop the killing."
              > >
              > > When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go
              > > out and murder other people. Feh.
              > >
              > > Love,
              > >
              > > M
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...>wrote:
              > >
              > >
              > > In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,
              > >
              > > I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.
              > > At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement
              > > and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
              > > However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred
              > > tactic, but not the only sole form of action.
              > >
              > > Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force,
              > > including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
              > > The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY
              > > nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
              > >
              > > In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go
              > > underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these
              > > sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.
              > > At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and
              > > police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion. This rebellion changed
              > > history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through
              > > such resistance.
              > >
              > > The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter
              > > Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are
              > > examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate
              > > means and actions against oppression. While I agree with Mark, that those
              > > who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and
              > > frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid
              > > sole way to make real lasting change. But the examples I give above of
              > > rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by
              > > the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make
              > > consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.
              > >
              > > Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when
              > > a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves
              > > against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and
              > > those who fought against the Confederacy and the
              > > Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be
              > > declared as unacceptable.
              > >
              > > The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers
              > > and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole
              > > true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to
              > > spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and
              > > successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out
              > > against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they
              > > themselves alone can not change what they oppose. They turn to individual
              > > violence. Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated
              > > Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence. The
              > > Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their
              > > deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I
              > > then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and
              > > not my enemy. The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against
              > > violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many
              > > forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and
              > > greed.
              > >
              > > John O'Brien
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > ------------------------------
              > > To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
              > > From: obenzinger@...
              > > Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
              > > Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of
              > > Tucson
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > http://www.counterpunch.org/rudd01182011.html
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              >
            • Steve Goldfield
              I once spoke in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at a Mennonite Church, home of pacificism and nonviolence. This was in 1979, and I had just returned from Southern
              Message 6 of 12 , Feb 14, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                I once spoke in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at a Mennonite Church, home of pacificism and
                nonviolence. This was in 1979, and I had just returned from Southern Africa. There was
                an African woman there who condemned the ANC and other liberation movements which used
                armed struggle. Interestingly, our Mennonite hosts understood that it was one thing to
                advocate nonviolence in the United States and another to hold South Africans, Namibians,
                Zimbabweans, Angolans, and Mozambicans to the same standard. If those movements had not
                engaged in armed struggle, they would still be living under apartheid and colonialism.
                Indeed, Portuguese fascism crumbled because of the cost of the wars and the army's
                opposition to them. So, I fervently agree that nonviolence is a tactic and not an
                inviolable principle. Nonviolence would also not have worked against fascism in Europe
                in the 1930s and 1940s.

                Steve Goldfield


                Perhaps I have not followed the exchange closely enough, but there seems to be a real mis-perception in your understanding of the events in Tahrir Square. This eree occupation. It is true that the ideological and practical envelope of the event was non-violent. As is made clear in The Times today, the young leadership (such as it was) was convinced of the efficacy of non-violence and dedicated to it. However, when the demonstrators in the Square were violently attacked by thousands of paid thugs, NDP party workers and er-- after an hour or so of non-violently accepting injury and threatened defeat -- responded with controlled and disciplined violence. Short of firearms, they met the weapons of the counter-demonstrators, rocks for rocks, molotovs for molotovs, clubs for clubs. When the firing started, it was the army who forced the thugs back with machine guns.

                Earlier in the week, the demonstrators had forced their way into Tahrir by fighting the police -- who killed hundreds that night -- again using disciplined and controlled, but very real, violence. In fact, they burned the ruling party headquarters. Its burnt hulk stood as an emblem of rage at the brutality of the Mukhabarat, and spurred people onward.

                At the same time, the overwhelming practice of the demonstrators was disciplined non-violence, and constructive action. It was their example of dedicated civility and intelligent advocacy that convinced the army, and the watching world, that they must not be attacked. Because of this envelope of non-violent attitude, the people of Egypt and the world learned to trust them to become the future leaders -- in a way quite similar to the Civil Rights Struggle in the American South.

                What is to be learned here? I'd argue we get into trouble when a tactic is turned into a moral standard. Ideals like "the morality of non-violence." or "the right of self-defense" should not be assumed as commandments. This only cements our feet into rigid stances, and leaves us unable to meet the various twists and turns of historical events. The young people of Egypt did two things at the same time. They were non-violent in their approach, yet used self defense (at the right time, in the appropriate way!) to protect their movement from being crushed. They retained the suppleness of thinking and practice that allowed them adjust their tactics, without violating their basic non-violent approach.

                What will happen in the future in Egypt is still uncertain in the extreme. The army, as its interests are threatened, may turn from protector of the people to their attacker. And remember, it was the soldiers in the square who protected the demonstrators from a potential blood bath. It is clear that a non-violent, people-power approach can be very successful, up to a point. Clear also is that the people need, at times, to defend themselves.

                How all this will work out in the Middle East is beyond any real prediction. What is clear is that rigid ideals, waving the gun of self-defense, or the bloody shirt of non-violence as commandments, are self defeating.

                -- Tom

                --- In CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com, Mark Rudd <mark@...> wrote:
                >
                > John: You're absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall. Thinking
                > about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a
                > pattern can be discerned in the growth of movements involving initial
                > defensive violence, followed by a long period of nonviolent struggle. After
                > Stonewall, decades of nonviolent struggle ensued. After the initial
                > Zapatista armed takeovers, most all of the succeeding offensive and
                > defensive actions of the movement were nonviolent. The 1999 Seattle WTO
                > demonstrations were followed by numerous substantially nonviolent
                > international demonstrations for global justice. That's three.
                >
                > Concerning the use of defensive arms in the South: Charles M. Payne, in his
                > brilliant study of the Mississippi freedom movement, "I've Got the Light of
                > Freedom," says that lynching and other terrorist attacks almost immediately
                > abated when the national news media shined their light on Mississippi. The
                > beginning of the end for the terrorists was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till,
                > a nationally publicized event, but whenever local violence was exposed in
                > the national media, including the 1964 slaying of the three civil rights
                > workers, the terror died down. It was as if the local ruling structure used
                > both the police and irregular forces (as in Egypt) to impose terror, but
                > when they decided to back down, the terror lessened. They turned it off
                > because the costs to them were too great. And I don't think those costs had
                > to do with an occasional KKK guy getting blown away.
                >
                > In this discussion I haven't used any moral or spiritual arguments, though I
                > believe strongly that such arguments exist. I've only argued out of
                > pragmatism. I do wish you'd address the arguments I made concerning the
                > self-defeating nature of "revolutionary violence:" the isolation, the arming
                > of the enemy, the errors.
                >
                > I believe our debate to be important because a handful of young activists in
                > certain movements such as environmental and animal rights have in the last
                > decade decided that "direct action" is useful. Many of them have landed in
                > prison and the movements have been unnecessarily tainted as "terrorist" by
                > the government. For example, there's a law concerning "Animal Enterprise
                > Terrorism" which defines terrorism as the loss of $10,000 or more to a
                > company or organization dealing with animals. Right now six people are in
                > federal prison for "conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism."
                > (Huntingdon Life Sciences case). Their crime was using computers to
                > organize a secondary boycott, which historically has been considered a
                > nonviolent tactic.
                >
                > My point is that there is no such thing as "diversity of tactics." A tiny
                > group of people claiming "the right of self-defense" undermines the work of
                > hundreds of thousands of others who have for sound strategic reasons
                > proclaimed our movement to be nonviolent. I often tell young people that
                > anyone who advocates violence is either very very stupid or a cop or both.
                > Sorry for the implication of disrespect: I need to draw a clear line.
                > However, I do recognize that my position is not that effective, since most
                > of the kids I talk with are instantly turned off by my evident disrespect,
                > not being used to that level of criticism. Perhaps I need to pat them on
                > the head and tell them how well-meaning they are but that I respectfully
                > disagree.
                >
                > Speaking of respect, the fact that we listen to each other is the absolute
                > highest form of respect possible.
                >
                > Long live the memory of the martyrs of Tahrir Square! And on and on.
                >
                > M
                >
                > On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
                >
                > > Mark,
                > >
                > > Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on
                > > tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you
                > > were and are my comrade!
                > > I will be happy to give you time to fully respond. As a former pacifist
                > > when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the SPU,
                > > I recognize your concerns and
                > > truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to
                > > non-violence. However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall
                > > Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that
                > > lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not. I do not say my pacifist
                > > friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT should it
                > > be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self
                > > defense. I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes and
                > > will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me. I will resist and
                > > not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be proud and
                > > stand up and not be a victim.
                > >
                > > Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in
                > > Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass
                > > protests planned following Islamic prayers. We can hope that those involved
                > > will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND to set
                > > up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic. It may be possible and be an
                > > incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding. But throughout
                > > history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to
                > > recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have nonviolently
                > > resisted their oppression.
                > >
                > > I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in various
                > > camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay alive for
                > > their own personal well being.
                > > However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about not
                > > only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but
                > > other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence (partisan
                > > and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other than
                > > by non-violent means.
                > >
                > > It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it has
                > > taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of
                > > injustices - that it MUST always be that way. I am not suggesting that. I
                > > am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer non-violence
                > > as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in physical
                > > form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY. It certainly was to bring an end to so many
                > > despots. However, short term changes in governments and events have been
                > > won with non-violence by those seeking change. Very often the rulers in
                > > these events have used violence, but were still defeated. Many other times
                > > those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently. This
                > > is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use
                > > force when needed to defend myself and others.
                > >
                > > I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers in
                > > absolute non-violence. However, there are times when another way needs to
                > > be done, to make positive change. If I did not help instigate violence
                > > against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had
                > > always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much notice.
                > > Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against the
                > > police in New York and a number of other localities around the world - BUT
                > > it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows, attacking
                > > police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that CREATED
                > > immediate change in consciousness for many and
                > > willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.
                > > This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall
                > > Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
                > >
                > > I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through Black
                > > communities were stopped because of non-violence. I believe it is because
                > > they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more and
                > > more after WWII. Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a
                > > wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones cause and
                > > issues, taking the high road against injustice. The KKK had NO RESPECT OR
                > > CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its enemies.
                > > They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they could get
                > > away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not just
                > > willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched and
                > > hurt. The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known group,
                > > but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante terror
                > > with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE. It was not the nonviolent
                > > demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights
                > > access issues. The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK and
                > > individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack Black
                > > people in their communities BOTH North and South. The police were NOT a
                > > dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck people in
                > > the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most nations
                > > around the world and through history. The police SUPPORTED the ruling
                > > dicatators. The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of
                > > history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently
                > > when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were in
                > > uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes
                > > attacking the demonstrators days later. The protesters formed self defense
                > > groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on
                > > to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it was
                > > NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to see
                > > and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be truly
                > > historic!)
                > >
                > > I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have
                > > time to respond to my points.
                > > As always - your comrade.
                > >
                > > Love,
                > >
                > > John O'Brien
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > ------------------------------
                > > Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
                > > Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake
                > > of Tucson
                > > From: mark@...
                > > To: causecollector@...; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
                > > CC: hobnzngr@...; BOCO4E@...
                > >
                > >
                > > Hi John: I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful
                > > rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence. Hilton especially urged me to do so.
                > > But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each
                > > day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore
                > > another case study for nonviolence. Of course things are never that simple.
                > > Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."
                > >
                > > Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the
                > > Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both
                > > premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the
                > > fact that he was obviously insane. I like to think that I wasn't 42 years
                > > ago. (But there's always that gray line).
                > >
                > > The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being
                > > historic. Each one deserves closer attention. Let's take, for example, the
                > > Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings. While these have rightly been held up as heroic
                > > exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever
                > > noted: the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely
                > > collaborationist Judenrat. The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the
                > > Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death
                > > camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of
                > > the Lodz Ghetto"). The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz
                > > made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive. The irony
                > > of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out,
                > > as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.
                > > Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration? I
                > > don't know. But survival is not that bad a goal. It has some useful
                > > strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.
                > >
                > > I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.
                > > I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy
                > > response.
                > >
                > > Just one point for our discussion: the right of self-defense covers a lot
                > > of sins. It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir
                > > Square, to defend themselves against goons. If a cop were beating me I'd
                > > certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows. In Mississippi armed
                > > black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay. But this
                > > is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy." The
                > > Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent. The goal was
                > > to split whites nationally, and it worked. The same can be said for the gay
                > > movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a
                > > nonviolent movement and has been successful as such. But the Panthers and
                > > Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our
                > > friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with
                > > "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always
                > > lose in this context. Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in
                > > thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic. It may have done a lot
                > > for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.
                > >
                > > I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument? Or are
                > > they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?
                > >
                > > My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the
                > > right to self-defense." You seem to be arging for that, too.
                > >
                > > Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends
                > > to unite the enemy, never a good strategy. It also turns off friends. On
                > > the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and
                > > elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the
                > > govt. went on the attack. So the only base that was left to them was the
                > > white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che
                > > Guevara, etc., which was no base at all. Huey Newton realized this in 1970
                > > when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by
                > > then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even
                > > talking self-defense. The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was
                > > disaster as well. But the main point is that the former or potential black
                > > base evaporated because black people don't want to die. "Revolutionary
                > > Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple
                > > meanings) is a horrible mass line.
                > >
                > > As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in
                > > Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual
                > > rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and
                > > their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians. Another
                > > strategic mistake. (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent
                > > tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the
                > > militarism for what it is). The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and
                > > sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.
                > >
                > > One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly
                > > a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be
                > > humiliated. Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks. Absolutely
                > > ridiculous.
                > >
                > > And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of
                > > self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David
                > > Hilliard). What a waste. Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison
                > > for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was
                > > revolutionary self-defense.
                > >
                > > Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison
                > > MARC) when people resort to violence.
                > > Better to keep it nonviolent. People will be hurt or die both ways, but at
                > > least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right
                > > to self-defense."
                > >
                > > Does any of this make sense? Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people
                > > what to do and what not to do?
                > >
                > > Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military,
                > > which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for
                > > Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood. We were
                > > extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as
                > > proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides). I believe his line
                > > was "stop the killing."
                > >
                > > When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go
                > > out and murder other people. Feh.
                > >
                > > Love,
                > >
                > > M
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...>wrote:
                > >
                > >
                > > In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,
                > >
                > > I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.
                > > At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement
                > > and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
                > > However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred
                > > tactic, but not the only sole form of action.
                > >
                > > Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force,
                > > including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
                > > The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY
                > > nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
                > >
                > > In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go
                > > underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these
                > > sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.
                > > At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and
                > > police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion. This rebellion changed
                > > history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through
                > > such resistance.
                > >
                > > The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter
                > > Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are
                > > examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate
                > > means and actions against oppression. While I agree with Mark, that those
                > > who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and
                > > frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid
                > > sole way to make real lasting change. But the examples I give above of
                > > rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by
                > > the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make
                > > consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.
                > >
                > > Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when
                > > a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves
                > > against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and
                > > those who fought against the Confederacy and the
                > > Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be
                > > declared as unacceptable.
                > >
                > > The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers
                > > and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole
                > > true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to
                > > spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and
                > > successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out
                > > against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they
                > > themselves alone can not change what they oppose. They turn to individual
                > > violence. Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated
                > > Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence. The
                > > Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their
                > > deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I
                > > then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and
                > > not my enemy. The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against
                > > violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many
                > > forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and
                > > greed.
                > >
                > > John O'Brien
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > ------------------------------
                > > To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
                > > From: obenzinger@...
                > > Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
                > > Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of
                > > Tucson
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > http://www.counterpunch.org/rudd01182011.html
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                >


              • Eric Lerner
                There is also a big difference between actual mass self-defense, as in Egypt, and individualistic “propaganda of the deed”, as with the Weathermen. /Simply
                Message 7 of 12 , Feb 14, 2011
                • 0 Attachment

                  There is also a big difference between actual mass self-defense, as in Egypt, and individualistic “propaganda of the deed”, as with the Weathermen. Simply calling something “self-defense” does not make it so. The Weatherman strategy was the idea of individual or a small group, isolated from the working class—or even in conflict with it—mobilizing the passive masses through the example of some violent deed. As Mark vividly describes in his memoir, the Weathermen came from backgrounds that made them feel alien to workers—to the vast majority of the population. They wrote most workers off as hopeless racists and reactionaries. Their strategy has nothing at all to do with the collective self-defense that is sometimes required by a mass movement.

                  Eric Lerner

                  I once spoke in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at a Mennonite Church, home of pacificism and
                  nonviolence. This was in 1979, and I had just returned from Southern Africa. There was
                  an African woman there who condemned the ANC and other liberation movements which used
                  armed struggle. Interestingly, our Mennonite hosts understood that it was one thing to
                  advocate nonviolence in the United States and another to hold South Africans, Namibians,
                  Zimbabweans, Angolans, and Mozambicans to the same standard. If those movements had not
                  engaged in armed struggle, they would still be living under apartheid and colonialism.
                  Indeed, Portuguese fascism crumbled because of the cost of the wars and the army's
                  opposition to them. So, I fervently agree that nonviolence is a tactic and not an
                  inviolable principle. Nonviolence would also not have worked against fascism in Europe
                  in the 1930s and 1940s.

                  Steve Goldfield


                  Perhaps I have not followed the exchange closely enough, but there seems to be a real mis-perception in your understanding of the events in Tahrir Square. This eree occupation. It is true that the ideological and practical envelope of the event was non-violent. As is made clear in The Times today, the young leadership (such as it was) was convinced of the efficacy of non-violence and dedicated to it. However, when the demonstrators in the Square were violently attacked by thousands of paid thugs, NDP party workers and er-- after an hour or so of non-violently accepting injury and threatened defeat -- responded with controlled and disciplined violence. Short of firearms, they met the weapons of the counter-demonstrators, rocks for rocks, molotovs for molotovs, clubs for clubs. When the firing started, it was the army who forced the thugs back with machine guns.

                  Earlier in the week, the demonstrators had forced their way into Tahrir by fighting the police -- who killed hundreds that night -- again using disciplined and controlled, but very real, violence. In fact, they burned the ruling party headquarters. Its burnt hulk stood as an emblem of rage at the brutality of the Mukhabarat, and spurred people onward.

                  At the same time, the overwhelming practice of the demonstrators was disciplined non-violence, and constructive action. It was their example of dedicated civility and intelligent advocacy that convinced the army, and the watching world, that they must not be attacked. Because of this envelope of non-violent attitude, the people of Egypt and the world learned to trust them to become the future leaders -- in a way quite similar to the Civil Rights Struggle in the American South.

                  What is to be learned here? I'd argue we get into trouble when a tactic is turned into a moral standard. Ideals like "the morality of non-violence." or "the right of self-defense" should not be assumed as commandments. This only cements our feet into rigid stances, and leaves us unable to meet the various twists and turns of historical events. The young people of Egypt did two things at the same time. They were non-violent in their approach, yet used self defense (at the right time, in the appropriate way!) to protect their movement from being crushed. They retained the suppleness of thinking and practice that allowed them adjust their tactics, without violating their basic non-violent approach.

                  What will happen in the future in Egypt is still uncertain in the extreme. The army, as its interests are threatened, may turn from protector of the people to their attacker. And remember, it was the soldiers in the square who protected the demonstrators from a potential blood bath. It is clear that a non-violent, people-power approach can be very successful, up to a point. Clear also is that the people need, at times, to defend themselves.

                  How all this will work out in the Middle East is beyond any real prediction. What is clear is that rigid ideals, waving the gun of self-defense, or the bloody shirt of non-violence as commandments, are self defeating.

                  -- Tom

                  --- In CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com, Mark Rudd <mark@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > John: You're absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall. Thinking
                  > about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a
                  > pattern can be discerned in the growth of movements involving initial
                  > defensive violence, followed by a long period of nonviolent struggle. After
                  > Stonewall, decades of nonviolent struggle ensued. After the initial
                  > Zapatista armed takeovers, most all of the succeeding offensive and
                  > defensive actions of the movement were nonviolent. The 1999 Seattle WTO
                  > demonstrations were followed by numerous substantially nonviolent
                  > international demonstrations for global justice. That's three.
                  >
                  > Concerning the use of defensive arms in the South: Charles M. Payne, in his
                  > brilliant study of the Mississippi freedom movement, "I've Got the Light of
                  > Freedom," says that lynching and other terrorist attacks almost immediately
                  > abated when the national news media shined their light on Mississippi. The
                  > beginning of the end for the terrorists was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till,
                  > a nationally publicized event, but whenever local violence was exposed in
                  > the national media, including the 1964 slaying of the three civil rights
                  > workers, the terror died down. It was as if the local ruling structure used
                  > both the police and irregular forces (as in Egypt) to impose terror, but
                  > when they decided to back down, the terror lessened. They turned it off
                  > because the costs to them were too great. And I don't think those costs had
                  > to do with an occasional KKK guy getting blown away.
                  >
                  > In this discussion I haven't used any moral or spiritual arguments, though I
                  > believe strongly that such arguments exist. I've only argued out of
                  > pragmatism. I do wish you'd address the arguments I made concerning the
                  > self-defeating nature of "revolutionary violence:" the isolation, the arming
                  > of the enemy, the errors.
                  >
                  > I believe our debate to be important because a handful of young activists in
                  > certain movements such as environmental and animal rights have in the last
                  > decade decided that "direct action" is useful. Many of them have landed in
                  > prison and the movements have been unnecessarily tainted as "terrorist" by
                  > the government. For example, there's a law concerning "Animal Enterprise
                  > Terrorism" which defines terrorism as the loss of $10,000 or more to a
                  > company or organization dealing with animals. Right now six people are in
                  > federal prison for "conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism."
                  > (Huntingdon Life Sciences case). Their crime was using computers to
                  > organize a secondary boycott, which historically has been considered a
                  > nonviolent tactic.
                  >
                  > My point is that there is no such thing as "diversity of tactics." A tiny
                  > group of people claiming "the right of self-defense" undermines the work of
                  > hundreds of thousands of others who have for sound strategic reasons
                  > proclaimed our movement to be nonviolent. I often tell young people that
                  > anyone who advocates violence is either very very stupid or a cop or both.
                  > Sorry for the implication of disrespect: I need to draw a clear line.
                  > However, I do recognize that my position is not that effective, since most
                  > of the kids I talk with are instantly turned off by my evident disrespect,
                  > not being used to that level of criticism. Perhaps I need to pat them on
                  > the head and tell them how well-meaning they are but that I respectfully
                  > disagree.
                  >
                  > Speaking of respect, the fact that we listen to each other is the absolute
                  > highest form of respect possible.
                  >
                  > Long live the memory of the martyrs of Tahrir Square! And on and on.
                  >
                  > M
                  >
                  > On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > > Mark,
                  > >
                  > > Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on
                  > > tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you
                  > > were and are my comrade!
                  > > I will be happy to give you time to fully respond. As a former pacifist
                  > > when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the SPU,
                  > > I recognize your concerns and
                  > > truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to
                  > > non-violence. However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall
                  > > Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that
                  > > lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not. I do not say my pacifist
                  > > friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT should it
                  > > be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self
                  > > defense. I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes and
                  > > will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me. I will resist and
                  > > not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be proud and
                  > > stand up and not be a victim.
                  > >
                  > > Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in
                  > > Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass
                  > > protests planned following Islamic prayers. We can hope that those involved
                  > > will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND to set
                  > > up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic. It may be possible and be an
                  > > incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding. But throughout
                  > > history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to
                  > > recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have nonviolently
                  > > resisted their oppression.
                  > >
                  > > I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in various
                  > > camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay alive for
                  > > their own personal well being.
                  > > However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about not
                  > > only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but
                  > > other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence (partisan
                  > > and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other than
                  > > by non-violent means.
                  > >
                  > > It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it has
                  > > taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of
                  > > injustices - that it MUST always be that way. I am not suggesting that. I
                  > > am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer non-violence
                  > > as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in physical
                  > > form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY. It certainly was to bring an end to so many
                  > > despots. However, short term changes in governments and events have been
                  > > won with non-violence by those seeking change. Very often the rulers in
                  > > these events have used violence, but were still defeated. Many other times
                  > > those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently. This
                  > > is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use
                  > > force when needed to defend myself and others.
                  > >
                  > > I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers in
                  > > absolute non-violence. However, there are times when another way needs to
                  > > be done, to make positive change. If I did not help instigate violence
                  > > against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had
                  > > always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much notice.
                  > > Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against the
                  > > police in New York and a number of other localities around the world - BUT
                  > > it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows, attacking
                  > > police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that CREATED
                  > > immediate change in consciousness for many and
                  > > willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.
                  > > This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall
                  > > Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
                  > >
                  > > I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through Black
                  > > communities were stopped because of non-violence. I believe it is because
                  > > they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more and
                  > > more after WWII. Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a
                  > > wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones cause and
                  > > issues, taking the high road against injustice. The KKK had NO RESPECT OR
                  > > CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its enemies.
                  > > They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they could get
                  > > away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not just
                  > > willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched and
                  > > hurt. The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known group,
                  > > but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante terror
                  > > with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE. It was not the nonviolent
                  > > demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights
                  > > access issues. The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK and
                  > > individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack Black
                  > > people in their communities BOTH North and South. The police were NOT a
                  > > dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck people in
                  > > the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most nations
                  > > around the world and through history. The police SUPPORTED the ruling
                  > > dicatators. The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of
                  > > history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently
                  > > when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were in
                  > > uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes
                  > > attacking the demonstrators days later. The protesters formed self defense
                  > > groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on
                  > > to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it was
                  > > NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to see
                  > > and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be truly
                  > > historic!)
                  > >
                  > > I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have
                  > > time to respond to my points.
                  > > As always - your comrade.
                  > >
                  > > Love,
                  > >
                  > > John O'Brien
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > ------------------------------
                  > > Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
                  > > Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake
                  > > of Tucson
                  > > From: mark@...
                  > > To: causecollector@...; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
                  > > CC: hobnzngr@...; BOCO4E@...
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Hi John: I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful
                  > > rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence. Hilton especially urged me to do so.
                  > > But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each
                  > > day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore
                  > > another case study for nonviolence. Of course things are never that simple.
                  > > Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."
                  > >
                  > > Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the
                  > > Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both
                  > > premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the
                  > > fact that he was obviously insane. I like to think that I wasn't 42 years
                  > > ago. (But there's always that gray line).
                  > >
                  > > The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being
                  > > historic. Each one deserves closer attention. Let's take, for example, the
                  > > Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings. While these have rightly been held up as heroic
                  > > exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever
                  > > noted: the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely
                  > > collaborationist Judenrat. The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the
                  > > Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death
                  > > camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of
                  > > the Lodz Ghetto"). The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz
                  > > made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive. The irony
                  > > of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out,
                  > > as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.
                  > > Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration? I
                  > > don't know. But survival is not that bad a goal. It has some useful
                  > > strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.
                  > >
                  > > I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.
                  > > I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy
                  > > response.
                  > >
                  > > Just one point for our discussion: the right of self-defense covers a lot
                  > > of sins. It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir
                  > > Square, to defend themselves against goons. If a cop were beating me I'd
                  > > certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows. In Mississippi armed
                  > > black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay. But this
                  > > is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy." The
                  > > Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent. The goal was
                  > > to split whites nationally, and it worked. The same can be said for the gay
                  > > movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a
                  > > nonviolent movement and has been successful as such. But the Panthers and
                  > > Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our
                  > > friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with
                  > > "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always
                  > > lose in this context. Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in
                  > > thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic. It may have done a lot
                  > > for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.
                  > >
                  > > I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument? Or are
                  > > they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?
                  > >
                  > > My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the
                  > > right to self-defense." You seem to be arging for that, too.
                  > >
                  > > Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends
                  > > to unite the enemy, never a good strategy. It also turns off friends. On
                  > > the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and
                  > > elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the
                  > > govt. went on the attack. So the only base that was left to them was the
                  > > white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che
                  > > Guevara, etc., which was no base at all. Huey Newton realized this in 1970
                  > > when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by
                  > > then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even
                  > > talking self-defense. The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was
                  > > disaster as well. But the main point is that the former or potential black
                  > > base evaporated because black people don't want to die. "Revolutionary
                  > > Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple
                  > > meanings) is a horrible mass line.
                  > >
                  > > As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in
                  > > Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual
                  > > rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and
                  > > their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians. Another
                  > > strategic mistake. (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent
                  > > tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the
                  > > militarism for what it is). The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and
                  > > sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.
                  > >
                  > > One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly
                  > > a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be
                  > > humiliated. Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks. Absolutely
                  > > ridiculous.
                  > >
                  > > And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of
                  > > self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David
                  > > Hilliard). What a waste. Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison
                  > > for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was
                  > > revolutionary self-defense.
                  > >
                  > > Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison
                  > > MARC) when people resort to violence.
                  > > Better to keep it nonviolent. People will be hurt or die both ways, but at
                  > > least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right
                  > > to self-defense."
                  > >
                  > > Does any of this make sense? Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people
                  > > what to do and what not to do?
                  > >
                  > > Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military,
                  > > which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for
                  > > Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood. We were
                  > > extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as
                  > > proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides). I believe his line
                  > > was "stop the killing."
                  > >
                  > > When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go
                  > > out and murder other people. Feh.
                  > >
                  > > Love,
                  > >
                  > > M
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...>wrote:
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,
                  > >
                  > > I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.
                  > > At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement
                  > > and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
                  > > However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred
                  > > tactic, but not the only sole form of action.
                  > >
                  > > Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force,
                  > > including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
                  > > The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY
                  > > nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
                  > >
                  > > In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go
                  > > underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these
                  > > sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.
                  > > At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and
                  > > police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion. This rebellion changed
                  > > history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through
                  > > such resistance.
                  > >
                  > > The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter
                  > > Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are
                  > > examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate
                  > > means and actions against oppression. While I agree with Mark, that those
                  > > who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and
                  > > frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid
                  > > sole way to make real lasting change. But the examples I give above of
                  > > rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by
                  > > the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make
                  > > consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.
                  > >
                  > > Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when
                  > > a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves
                  > > against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and
                  > > those who fought against the Confederacy and the
                  > > Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be
                  > > declared as unacceptable.
                  > >
                  > > The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers
                  > > and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole
                  > > true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to
                  > > spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and
                  > > successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out
                  > > against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they
                  > > themselves alone can not change what they oppose. They turn to individual
                  > > violence. Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated
                  > > Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence. The
                  > > Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their
                  > > deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I
                  > > then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and
                  > > not my enemy. The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against
                  > > violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many
                  > > forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and
                  > > greed.
                  > >
                  > > John O'Brien
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > ------------------------------
                  > > To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
                  > > From: obenzinger@...
                  > > Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
                  > > Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of

                  (Message over 64 KB, truncated)

                • Meredith Sue Willis
                  This ongoing discussion about peaceful resistance and self-defense and propaganda of the deed (which I would assume has to include the tactic of suicide
                  Message 8 of 12 , Feb 15, 2011
                  • 0 Attachment
                    This ongoing discussion about peaceful resistance and self-defense and propaganda of the deed  (which I would assume has to include the tactic of suicide bombings) is fascinating, and clarifying some things for me.
                                                                           MSW





                    On Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 11:41 PM, Eric Lerner <elerner@...> wrote:
                     

                    There is also a big difference between actual mass self-defense, as in Egypt, and individualistic “propaganda of the deed”, as with the Weathermen. Simply calling something “self-defense” does not make it so. The Weatherman strategy was the idea of individual or a small group, isolated from the working class—or even in conflict with it—mobilizing the passive masses through the example of some violent deed. As Mark vividly describes in his memoir, the Weathermen came from backgrounds that made them feel alien to workers—to the vast majority of the population. They wrote most workers off as hopeless racists and reactionaries. Their strategy has nothing at all to do with the collective self-defense that is sometimes required by a mass movement.

                    Eric Lerner

                    I once spoke in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at a Mennonite Church, home of pacificism and
                    nonviolence. This was in 1979, and I had just returned from Southern Africa. There was
                    an African woman there who condemned the ANC and other liberation movements which used
                    armed struggle. Interestingly, our Mennonite hosts understood that it was one thing to
                    advocate nonviolence in the United States and another to hold South Africans, Namibians,
                    Zimbabweans, Angolans, and Mozambicans to the same standard. If those movements had not
                    engaged in armed struggle, they would still be living under apartheid and colonialism.
                    Indeed, Portuguese fascism crumbled because of the cost of the wars and the army's
                    opposition to them. So, I fervently agree that nonviolence is a tactic and not an
                    inviolable principle. Nonviolence would also not have worked against fascism in Europe
                    in the 1930s and 1940s.

                    Steve Goldfield


                    Perhaps I have not followed the exchange closely enough, but there seems to be a real mis-perception in your understanding of the events in Tahrir Square. This eree occupation. It is true that the ideological and practical envelope of the event was non-violent. As is made clear in The Times today, the young leadership (such as it was) was convinced of the efficacy of non-violence and dedicated to it. However, when the demonstrators in the Square were violently attacked by thousands of paid thugs, NDP party workers and er-- after an hour or so of non-violently accepting injury and threatened defeat -- responded with controlled and disciplined violence. Short of firearms, they met the weapons of the counter-demonstrators, rocks for rocks, molotovs for molotovs, clubs for clubs. When the firing started, it was the army who forced the thugs back with machine guns.

                    Earlier in the week, the demonstrators had forced their way into Tahrir by fighting the police -- who killed hundreds that night -- again using disciplined and controlled, but very real, violence. In fact, they burned the ruling party headquarters. Its burnt hulk stood as an emblem of rage at the brutality of the Mukhabarat, and spurred people onward.

                    At the same time, the overwhelming practice of the demonstrators was disciplined non-violence, and constructive action. It was their example of dedicated civility and intelligent advocacy that convinced the army, and the watching world, that they must not be attacked. Because of this envelope of non-violent attitude, the people of Egypt and the world learned to trust them to become the future leaders -- in a way quite similar to the Civil Rights Struggle in the American South.

                    What is to be learned here? I'd argue we get into trouble when a tactic is turned into a moral standard. Ideals like "the morality of non-violence." or "the right of self-defense" should not be assumed as commandments. This only cements our feet into rigid stances, and leaves us unable to meet the various twists and turns of historical events. The young people of Egypt did two things at the same time. They were non-violent in their approach, yet used self defense (at the right time, in the appropriate way!) to protect their movement from being crushed. They retained the suppleness of thinking and practice that allowed them adjust their tactics, without violating their basic non-violent approach.

                    What will happen in the future in Egypt is still uncertain in the extreme. The army, as its interests are threatened, may turn from protector of the people to their attacker. And remember, it was the soldiers in the square who protected the demonstrators from a potential blood bath. It is clear that a non-violent, people-power approach can be very successful, up to a point. Clear also is that the people need, at times, to defend themselves.

                    How all this will work out in the Middle East is beyond any real prediction. What is clear is that rigid ideals, waving the gun of self-defense, or the bloody shirt of non-violence as commandments, are self defeating.

                    -- Tom

                    --- In CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com, Mark Rudd <mark@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > John: You're absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall. Thinking
                    > about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a
                    > pattern can be discerned in the growth of movements involving initial
                    > defensive violence, followed by a long period of nonviolent struggle. After
                    > Stonewall, decades of nonviolent struggle ensued. After the initial
                    > Zapatista armed takeovers, most all of the succeeding offensive and
                    > defensive actions of the movement were nonviolent. The 1999 Seattle WTO
                    > demonstrations were followed by numerous substantially nonviolent
                    > international demonstrations for global justice. That's three.
                    >
                    > Concerning the use of defensive arms in the South: Charles M. Payne, in his
                    > brilliant study of the Mississippi freedom movement, "I've Got the Light of
                    > Freedom," says that lynching and other terrorist attacks almost immediately
                    > abated when the national news media shined their light on Mississippi. The
                    > beginning of the end for the terrorists was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till,
                    > a nationally publicized event, but whenever local violence was exposed in
                    > the national media, including the 1964 slaying of the three civil rights
                    > workers, the terror died down. It was as if the local ruling structure used
                    > both the police and irregular forces (as in Egypt) to impose terror, but
                    > when they decided to back down, the terror lessened. They turned it off
                    > because the costs to them were too great. And I don't think those costs had
                    > to do with an occasional KKK guy getting blown away.
                    >
                    > In this discussion I haven't used any moral or spiritual arguments, though I
                    > believe strongly that such arguments exist. I've only argued out of
                    > pragmatism. I do wish you'd address the arguments I made concerning the
                    > self-defeating nature of "revolutionary violence:" the isolation, the arming
                    > of the enemy, the errors.
                    >
                    > I believe our debate to be important because a handful of young activists in
                    > certain movements such as environmental and animal rights have in the last
                    > decade decided that "direct action" is useful. Many of them have landed in
                    > prison and the movements have been unnecessarily tainted as "terrorist" by
                    > the government. For example, there's a law concerning "Animal Enterprise
                    > Terrorism" which defines terrorism as the loss of $10,000 or more to a
                    > company or organization dealing with animals. Right now six people are in
                    > federal prison for "conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism."
                    > (Huntingdon Life Sciences case). Their crime was using computers to
                    > organize a secondary boycott, which historically has been considered a
                    > nonviolent tactic.
                    >
                    > My point is that there is no such thing as "diversity of tactics." A tiny
                    > group of people claiming "the right of self-defense" undermines the work of
                    > hundreds of thousands of others who have for sound strategic reasons
                    > proclaimed our movement to be nonviolent. I often tell young people that
                    > anyone who advocates violence is either very very stupid or a cop or both.
                    > Sorry for the implication of disrespect: I need to draw a clear line.
                    > However, I do recognize that my position is not that effective, since most
                    > of the kids I talk with are instantly turned off by my evident disrespect,
                    > not being used to that level of criticism. Perhaps I need to pat them on
                    > the head and tell them how well-meaning they are but that I respectfully
                    > disagree.
                    >
                    > Speaking of respect, the fact that we listen to each other is the absolute
                    > highest form of respect possible.
                    >
                    > Long live the memory of the martyrs of Tahrir Square! And on and on.
                    >
                    > M
                    >
                    > On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > > Mark,
                    > >
                    > > Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on
                    > > tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you
                    > > were and are my comrade!
                    > > I will be happy to give you time to fully respond. As a former pacifist
                    > > when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the SPU,
                    > > I recognize your concerns and
                    > > truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to
                    > > non-violence. However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall
                    > > Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that
                    > > lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not. I do not say my pacifist
                    > > friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT should it
                    > > be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self
                    > > defense. I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes and
                    > > will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me. I will resist and
                    > > not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be proud and
                    > > stand up and not be a victim.
                    > >
                    > > Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in
                    > > Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass
                    > > protests planned following Islamic prayers. We can hope that those involved
                    > > will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND to set
                    > > up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic. It may be possible and be an
                    > > incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding. But throughout
                    > > history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to
                    > > recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have nonviolently
                    > > resisted their oppression.
                    > >
                    > > I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in various
                    > > camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay alive for
                    > > their own personal well being.
                    > > However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about not
                    > > only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but
                    > > other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence (partisan
                    > > and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other than
                    > > by non-violent means.
                    > >
                    > > It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it has
                    > > taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of
                    > > injustices - that it MUST always be that way. I am not suggesting that. I
                    > > am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer non-violence
                    > > as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in physical
                    > > form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY. It certainly was to bring an end to so many
                    > > despots. However, short term changes in governments and events have been
                    > > won with non-violence by those seeking change. Very often the rulers in
                    > > these events have used violence, but were still defeated. Many other times
                    > > those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently. This
                    > > is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use
                    > > force when needed to defend myself and others.
                    > >
                    > > I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers in
                    > > absolute non-violence. However, there are times when another way needs to
                    > > be done, to make positive change. If I did not help instigate violence
                    > > against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had
                    > > always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much notice.
                    > > Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against the
                    > > police in New York and a number of other localities around the world - BUT
                    > > it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows, attacking
                    > > police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that CREATED
                    > > immediate change in consciousness for many and
                    > > willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.
                    > > This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall
                    > > Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
                    > >
                    > > I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through Black
                    > > communities were stopped because of non-violence. I believe it is because
                    > > they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more and
                    > > more after WWII. Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a
                    > > wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones cause and
                    > > issues, taking the high road against injustice. The KKK had NO RESPECT OR
                    > > CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its enemies.
                    > > They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they could get
                    > > away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not just
                    > > willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched and
                    > > hurt. The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known group,
                    > > but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante terror
                    > > with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE. It was not the nonviolent
                    > > demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights
                    > > access issues. The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK and
                    > > individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack Black
                    > > people in their communities BOTH North and South. The police were NOT a
                    > > dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck people in
                    > > the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most nations
                    > > around the world and through history. The police SUPPORTED the ruling
                    > > dicatators. The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of
                    > > history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently
                    > > when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were in
                    > > uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes
                    > > attacking the demonstrators days later. The protesters formed self defense
                    > > groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on
                    > > to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it was
                    > > NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to see
                    > > and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be truly
                    > > historic!)
                    > >
                    > > I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have
                    > > time to respond to my points.
                    > > As always - your comrade.
                    > >
                    > > Love,
                    > >
                    > > John O'Brien
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > ------------------------------
                    > > Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
                    > > Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake
                    > > of Tucson
                    > > From: mark@...
                    > > To: causecollector@...; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
                    > > CC: hobnzngr@...; BOCO4E@...
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > Hi John: I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful
                    > > rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence. Hilton especially urged me to do so.
                    > > But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each
                    > > day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore
                    > > another case study for nonviolence. Of course things are never that simple.
                    > > Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."
                    > >
                    > > Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the
                    > > Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both
                    > > premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the
                    > > fact that he was obviously insane. I like to think that I wasn't 42 years
                    > > ago. (But there's always that gray line).
                    > >
                    > > The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being
                    > > historic. Each one deserves closer attention. Let's take, for example, the
                    > > Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings. While these have rightly been held up as heroic
                    > > exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever
                    > > noted: the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely
                    > > collaborationist Judenrat. The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the
                    > > Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death
                    > > camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of
                    > > the Lodz Ghetto"). The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz
                    > > made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive. The irony
                    > > of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out,
                    > > as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.
                    > > Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration? I
                    > > don't know. But survival is not that bad a goal. It has some useful
                    > > strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.
                    > >
                    > > I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.
                    > > I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy
                    > > response.
                    > >
                    > > Just one point for our discussion: the right of self-defense covers a lot
                    > > of sins. It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir
                    > > Square, to defend themselves against goons. If a cop were beating me I'd
                    > > certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows. In Mississippi armed
                    > > black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay. But this
                    > > is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy." The
                    > > Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent. The goal was
                    > > to split whites nationally, and it worked. The same can be said for the gay
                    > > movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a
                    > > nonviolent movement and has been successful as such. But the Panthers and
                    > > Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our
                    > > friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with
                    > > "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always
                    > > lose in this context. Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in
                    > > thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic. It may have done a lot
                    > > for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.
                    > >
                    > > I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument? Or are
                    > > they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?
                    > >
                    > > My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the
                    > > right to self-defense." You seem to be arging for that, too.
                    > >
                    > > Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends
                    > > to unite the enemy, never a good strategy. It also turns off friends. On
                    > > the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and
                    > > elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the
                    > > govt. went on the attack. So the only base that was left to them was the
                    > > white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che
                    > > Guevara, etc., which was no base at all. Huey Newton realized this in 1970
                    > > when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by
                    > > then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even
                    > > talking self-defense. The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was
                    > > disaster as well. But the main point is that the former or potential black
                    > > base evaporated because black people don't want to die. "Revolutionary
                    > > Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple
                    > > meanings) is a horrible mass line.
                    > >
                    > > As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in
                    > > Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual
                    > > rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and
                    > > their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians. Another
                    > > strategic mistake. (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent
                    > > tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the
                    > > militarism for what it is). The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and
                    > > sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.
                    > >
                    > > One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly
                    > > a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be
                    > > humiliated. Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks. Absolutely
                    > > ridiculous.
                    > >
                    > > And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of
                    > > self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David
                    > > Hilliard). What a waste. Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison
                    > > for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was
                    > > revolutionary self-defense.
                    > >
                    > > Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison
                    > > MARC) when people resort to violence.
                    > > Better to keep it nonviolent. People will be hurt or die both ways, but at
                    > > least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right
                    > > to self-defense."
                    > >
                    > > Does any of this make sense? Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people
                    > > what to do and what not to do?
                    > >
                    > > Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military,
                    > > which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for
                    > > Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood. We were
                    > > extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as
                    > > proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides). I believe his line
                    > > was "stop the killing."
                    > >
                    > > When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go
                    > > out and murder other people. Feh.
                    > >
                    > > Love,
                    > >
                    > > M
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...>wrote:
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,
                    > >
                    > > I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.
                    > > At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement
                    > > and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
                    > > However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred
                    > > tactic, but not the only sole form of action.
                    > >
                    > > Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force,
                    > > including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
                    > > The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY
                    > > nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
                    > >
                    > > In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go
                    > > underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these
                    > > sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.
                    > > At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and
                    > > police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion. This rebellion changed
                    > > history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through
                    > > such resistance.
                    > >
                    > > The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter
                    > > Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are
                    > > examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate
                    > > means and actions against oppression. While I agree with Mark, that those
                    > > who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and
                    > > frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid
                    > > sole way to make real lasting change. But the examples I give above of
                    > > rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by
                    > > the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make
                    > > consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.
                    > >
                    > > Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when
                    > > a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves
                    > > against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and
                    > > those who fought against the Confederacy and the
                    > > Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be
                    > > declared as unacceptable.
                    > >
                    > > The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers
                    > > and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole
                    > > true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to
                    > > spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and
                    > > successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out
                    > > against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they
                    > > themselves alone can not change what they oppose. They turn to individual
                    > > violence. Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated
                    > > Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence. The
                    > > Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their
                    > > deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I
                    > > then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and
                    > > not my enemy. The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against
                    > > violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many
                    > > forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and
                    > > greed.
                    > >
                    > > John O'Brien
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > ------------------------------
                    > > To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
                    > > From: obenzinger@...
                    > > Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
                    > > Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of
                    > > Tucson
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > http://www.counterpunch.org/rudd01182011.html
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    >






                    --
                    Meredith Sue Willis
                      http://www.meredithsuewillis.com
                    New Book:  OUT OF THE MOUNTAINS: Appalachian Stories.  Visit http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/Out+of+the+Mountains




                  • John Obrien
                    Mark, I hope this discussion on the use of nonviolence and when physical resistance can be justified, can be of help to you and others, by keeping it as part
                    Message 9 of 12 , Feb 16, 2011
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Mark,

                      I hope this discussion on the use of nonviolence and when physical resistance can be justified, can be of help to you and others, by keeping it as part of a larger vision of a truly just, caring, cooperative and peaceful world. 

                      You ask me to address the use of revolutionary violence. There are many examples of the use of violence as the sole political purpose for change and not for defense, as failing to produce lasting progressive change for the goals, that I mention in my first sentence above.  The Narodniks are a good example, of how the use of simply force, to try and make change, does not lead to success.  Their targets at first fully justified, led them down a road of carrying out violence more and more against those with less power and even against those who held similar progressive political views, but did not support their decisions on who the latest targets of opportunity and attack were.  Their strategy would not and did not advance political opposition or organization to tsarist rule and oppression.  Similarly the current people in Chechnya and elsewhere who use suicide bombings in schools and crowded public buildings, as a political weapon in SUBSTITUTE for political organizing, is not something I can support, since this violence does not lead to real progressive change.

                      Anyone who likes to use individual violence and enjoys simply, causing harm, as opposed to winning people to a cause and efforts to raise awareness
                      and long lasting conciousness, does not receive my support.  But, there are a number of instances besides the Stonewall Rebellion which you concede in your recent reply, as an example of violent actions, that brought about important progressive change. Among these I would list are the American Revolution (1770 - 1781), the Haiti Revolution (1791 - 1804) a successful slave uprising (and I would add even the unsuccessful slave rebellions before then in the world and after, as part of my views when other than nonviolence resistance, is both justified and progressive in efforts for a better world.), numerous peasant revolts and many efforts against colonialism, women defending themselves against rape, people of color defending themselves against racist mob attacks, etc.  Then we get to the more dicier examples of individual assassination and even explosives used against public targets, by such as WWII Resistance groups and later even more problematic the Algerian Revolution and the Kenya Mau Mau uprising.  There can be much discussion on what would have worked better, or been justified, but I
                      GENERALLY support efforts that are around mass mobilization against tyranny.

                      I have met some religious based pacifists who sided with the oppressor, against those challenging/rebelling, because they oppose chaos more than opposing the business as usual use of oppression.  They are horrified by people breaking bank windows, but do nothing to risk their own lives in trying to end the real violence that these banks carry out.  While other pacifists (who I admire) have carried out damage to property, such as draft card records, damaging missiles and see the difference and justification, but who are criticized by some religious pacifists, who decry their actions as violence. 

                      I also give political support to those caring about animal abuse, who free animals from university and other testing laboratories. Again seen by some as a violation of some people's legal rights to own and carry out suffering of these animals (I mention this because you raised the issue of those resisting this injustice.  I see the rightful efforts to free slaves and aid in their escape, as similar to freeing these animals from torture.)  But while I certainly recognize and understand the violence against these animals, for individual and corporate profit, the substitute of using violence against the researchers or those in charge of there university or other facilities, in shooting, poisoning, or bombing them, is not supported by me, because it is used as a counter to open political organizing.  This is similar to why I did not go underground with you and the other comrades in 1969.  There was still ability to organize and be politically active above ground in 1969 and the same is true today with the efforts to end animal testing facilities.  Thus this individual violence is not justified, when there is an alternative towards the same political organizing against injustice, whether against the U. S. bombings of Hanoi and Haiphong and its brutal war, or against the torture of animals today.  (Another irony, is that Hitler was a vegetarian, but was willing to kill his own pet dog in the bunker, to test the poison he gave his bunker associates and massacre millions of others, while being a vegetarian!  So, believing you are practicing and living with higher morality, as justification for your violence on others, is not something lost on me, and by your views about the use of absolute nonviolence as a principal and not just tactical.)  I also forgive those among the recent Cairo Tarir Square protesters,  who hurt both horses and camels, to repulse the violent riders who attacked them.  Because each situation and event using violence, must be separately viewed and not lumped in with all violence, without any exception.

                      People keep citing M. Gandhi as a great example (to them) of how nonviolence is the only way to carry out resistance to injustice, which was just done in this discussion, as a role model to follow.  However Gandhi's real history and beliefs, are carefully overlooked, such as by the Hollywood film, where he is depicted by the actor Ben Kingsley.  Gandhi was a religious believer that urged not only discrimination against Gays, but even justified their being murdered in his publication Young India, that he wrote in the 1920's.  While he favored the end of discrimination against Indians in South Africa, he viewed the Africans as inferiors and said as much, caring ONLY about Asians.  Gandhi was wrong in his criticizing the WWII Resistance to fascism, while he himself had served the British colonial empire militarily, in both the Boer War and WWI.  Please find better examples to use as persons we should follow.  As far as nonviolence, it was NOT created by M. Gandhi, it was used previously throughout history. It was Martin Luther King, Jr's. interests and following Gandhi's tactics in resisting British colonial rule of India (not Africa!!), that seem to be why Gandhi is always cited as the source of nonviolent practice and thinking. Others of Asia, had religious prophets with movements, who had promoted nonviolence (Rumi, Mehdi, Mani, etc.) and unlike M. Gandhi who oppressed Gays, others did not.  I can not view anyone who advocated violence and oppression of Gays, as a role model which should promote.  Thoreau in the United States would be a better role model, of one who promoted nonviolence.

                      While I appreciate your offering the writings of Charles Payne in his work on the Mississippi Freedom Movement, I still hold that what ended the white mob violence against Black people (both in the South and the North), was in part when white racists perceived they would be hurt in trying to continue these efforts.  This is why you do not today see the current klan and nazi groups going armed into Black communities in the South and the North and carrying out attacks, as they had in the past.  Now they pick off individuals, like the city police do, but avoid trying to violently attack the whole community, as they did in the past (such as the St. Louis, Atlanta and many other white race riots), because of armed black people who would resist.  It was not the media around Emmett Till (which then had profound affect on many Black people, but had little coverage among whites), or the much later wider media coverage of civil rights workers murdered, or the infamous Birmingham Church bombing that killed little children, that ended the kkk and nazis from carrying out organized violent open rampages through Black Communities.  It was these white fascists fearing black people shooting back at them.  The Civil Rights Movement success had isolated and decreased the size of the kkk, but the hard core remaining, cared little about the harming of black people and were more concerned of their own wellness!
                      I believe it was a combination of BOTH the political success of the Civil Rights Movement isolating these fascists AND their fear of personal harm by armed black people, that ended this previous practice of violence on Black communities. BOTH were contributors, not only one of these two factors.

                      [However, we see this potential for increasing violence by mainly right wing similar forces, arising around Latino and Asian immigrants today] - and we can explore, why previous white rioting against Mexican and Asian immigrants also decreased, which was separate and earlier than the Civil Rights Movement.  I know that the attacks on the Chinese community in lower Manhattan ended in the early 20th Century, when the mainly Italian American attackers were repulsed physically by armed Chinese residents.  This defeat eventually ended a larger enclave of Little Italy in Manhattan, after the same Italian American forces, were also stopped from expanding north of Christopher Street in the violence waged between them and the Irish immigrants.  Thus the Stonewall Rebellion fought on the same Christopher Street years later, had this historic irony as well!  While you affirm that boycotts are permissable, the original target of this tactic in Ireland by the poor Irish against their British overlord, who himself said the boycott was an act of violence, for causing chaos and threatening him with violent overthrow.  I am proud of my Irish heritage and those who militarily fought in Mexico (San Patricios) and in South America (volunteers to Bolivar) and in other efforts such as in the International Brigades against Franco (despite the stalinist crimes in Spain). I also am proud of the Irish who resisted in Barbados, where they were taken to cut sugar after the British ended slavery of Black people in 1838 and decided to use the Irish Catholics and Indian Hindus instead, or in Australia and the list goes on.)  While the British Abolition Movement succeeded in using nonviolence, the U. S. Abolition Movement did not succeed using this same tactic and led to those impatient with their supporting the efforts of John Brown and then supporting the Union Army against the Confederacy.  Sometimes violence ended when people no longer resisted, but the rulers remained in power and continued to oppress.  Some pacifists, would
                      be content with that form of peace.  But that is without justice and certainly the violence inflicted on the oppressed continued, which I know my progressive pacifists would not accept as a better alternative, by having just peace for the oppressor (and no change!)

                      I can point to the use of violence as a Gay man, who is Irish and a Leftist, as justifiable, when it is used to resist oppression and as part of mass struggles against dictators and horrendous conditions.  To say that any group of people should just use nonviolence soley and always, ignores the harm and damage caused to the victims and the REALITY of how to end it.  Since you have conceded the Stonewall Rebellion and its attacks on police were justifiable, since it produced much change and betterment for the ten percent of the world's population that is of that people (such as myself), including its growing effects in India, when Gandhi was part of the problem and not the solution!, then please consider were Jews in Europe who did not use violence against the Nazis better than those who did, or the Armenian and Smyrna Greek victims against the Ottoman Young Turk Pashas, or the American Indians (Captain Jack, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, etc.), who resisted their own holocaust by the U. S. government (and other nations elsewhere who also tried to eradicate native peoples).  I would submit that giving our political support to Spartacus, Nat Turner, James Connolly and the list goes on, including the Cairo Tahrir Square protesters, is something to seriously consider, as the correct decision made then in those times, by those then living and since.   It is easy for a wealthy privileged quaker (place any religion or group here instead) to say that ONLY nonviolence is acceptable, when oppressed people can not (and should not) endure any longer the violence against them by oppressors, and there are no alternatives to end this injustice. 

                      Political absolutes are not easy, for instance I oppose the U. S. government repressive forces, such as the police and would encourage ideally no interaction or support for any of their representatives or actions.  However, if I was surrounded by a group of youth who were yelling homophobic remarks and said they were going to hit me, with the bats or knives they were carrying and a police car pulled up - would I (should I?) then demand the police to leave, as armed repressive representatives of the state and not save me from likely harm, to allow me to get away and not be another dead homo victim? (and I note many times it is the police who are the usual violent threat to me and who would under another situation do the same as this group of youths.)  But this has actually happened to me.  I believe we need as in this case, to judge each case on its own and not issue political aboslutes, when it comes to the defense of a person, or of a people.

                      I prefer nonviolence as a tactic, but at times those wanting to eradicate rights and the very lives of those demanding change,in using violence themselves,
                      requires the only way to stop them is by resisting through self defense - not as the Narodniks did, but through the mobilization and masses rising up, such as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis, despite Gandhi's objections!

                      As someone who participated in the use of nonviolent resistance, as a participant in the Civil Right Movement and the use of violent resistance, as a participant in the Stonewall Rebellion, I share this discussion and thoughts with you.

                      As always your comrade,

                      Love,

                      John O'Brien


                      To: causecollector@...
                      CC: cu68-08event@yahoogroups.com; hobnzngr@...; boco4e@...
                      From: mark@...
                      Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2011 17:33:57 -0700
                      Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson

                       
                      John:  You're absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall.  Thinking about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a pattern can be discerned in the growth of movements involving initial defensive violence, followed by a long period of nonviolent struggle.  After Stonewall, decades of nonviolent struggle ensued.  After the initial Zapatista armed takeovers, most all of the succeeding offensive and defensive actions of the movement were nonviolent.  The 1999 Seattle WTO demonstrations were followed by numerous substantially nonviolent international demonstrations for global justice.  That's three.  

                      Concerning the use of defensive arms in the South:  Charles M. Payne, in his brilliant study of the Mississippi freedom movement, "I've Got the Light of Freedom," says that lynching and other terrorist attacks almost immediately abated when the national news media shined their light on Mississippi.  The beginning of the end for the terrorists was the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a nationally publicized event, but whenever local violence was exposed in the national media, including the 1964 slaying of the three civil rights workers, the terror died down.  It was as if the local ruling structure used both the police and irregular forces (as in Egypt) to impose terror, but when they decided to back down, the terror lessened.  They turned it off because the costs to them were too great.  And I don't think those costs had to do with an occasional KKK guy getting blown away.  

                      In this discussion I haven't used any moral or spiritual arguments, though I believe strongly that such arguments exist.  I've only argued out of pragmatism.  I do wish you'd address the arguments I made concerning the self-defeating nature of "revolutionary violence:" the isolation, the arming of the enemy, the errors.

                      I believe our debate to be important because a handful of young activists in certain movements such as environmental and animal rights have in the last decade decided that "direct action" is useful.  Many of them have landed in prison and the movements have been unnecessarily tainted as "terrorist" by the government.  For example, there's a law concerning "Animal Enterprise Terrorism" which defines terrorism as the loss of $10,000 or more to a company or organization dealing with animals.  Right now six people are in federal prison for "conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism."  (Huntingdon Life Sciences case).  Their crime was using computers to organize a secondary boycott, which historically has been considered a nonviolent tactic.

                      My point is that there is no such thing as "diversity of tactics."  A tiny group of people claiming "the right of self-defense" undermines the work of hundreds of thousands of others who have for sound strategic reasons proclaimed our movement to be nonviolent.  I often tell young people that anyone who advocates violence is either very very stupid or a cop or both.  Sorry for the implication of disrespect:  I need to draw a clear line.  However, I do recognize that my position is not that effective, since most of the kids I talk with are instantly turned off by my evident disrespect, not being used to that level of criticism.  Perhaps I need to pat them on the head and tell them how well-meaning they are but that I respectfully disagree.

                      Speaking of respect, the fact that we listen to each other is the absolute highest form of respect possible.

                      Long live the memory of the martyrs of Tahrir Square!  And on and on.

                      M

                      On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
                      Mark,
                       
                      Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed on tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground - you were and are my comrade!
                      I will be happy to give you time to fully respond.  As a former pacifist when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the SPU, I recognize your concerns and
                      truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to non-violence.  However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not.  I do not say my pacifist friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT should it be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self defense.  I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes and will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me.  I will resist and not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be proud and stand up and not be a victim.
                       
                      Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass protests planned following Islamic prayers.  We can hope that those involved will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND to set up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic.  It may be possible and be an incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding.  But throughout history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have nonviolently resisted their oppression. 
                       
                      I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in various camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay alive for their own personal well being.
                      However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about not only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence (partisan and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other than by non-violent means.     
                       
                      It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it has taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of injustices - that it MUST always be that way.  I am not suggesting that.  I am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer non-violence as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in physical form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY.  It certainly was to bring an end to so many despots.  However, short term changes in governments and events have been won with non-violence by those seeking change.  Very often the rulers in these events have used violence, but were still defeated.  Many other times those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently.  This is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use force when needed to defend myself and others.
                       
                      I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers in absolute non-violence.  However, there are times when another way needs to be done, to make positive change.  If I did not help instigate violence against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much notice.  Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against the police in New York and a number of other localities around the world - BUT it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows, attacking police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that CREATED immediate change in consciousness for many and
                      willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.  This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
                       
                      I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through Black communities were stopped because of non-violence.  I believe it is because they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more and more after WWII.  Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones cause and issues, taking the high road against injustice.  The KKK had NO RESPECT OR CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its enemies.  They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they could get away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not just willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched and hurt.  The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known group, but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante terror with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE.  It was not the nonviolent demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights access issues.  The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK and individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack Black people in their communities BOTH North and South.  The police were NOT a dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck people in the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most nations around the world and through history.  The police SUPPORTED the ruling dicatators.  The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were in uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes attacking the demonstrators days later.  The protesters formed self defense groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it was NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to see and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be truly historic!)
                       
                      I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have time to respond to my points.
                      As always - your comrade.
                       
                      Love,
                       
                      John O'Brien
                       
                       
                       

                      Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
                      Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson
                      From: mark@...
                      To: causecollector@...; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
                      CC: hobnzngr@...; BOCO4E@...


                      Hi John:  I've been meaning to write you back after your really thoughtful rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence.  Hilton especially urged me to do so.  But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought each day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore another case study for nonviolence.  Of course things are never that simple.  Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."

                      Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in the fact that he was obviously insane.  I like to think that I wasn't 42 years ago.  (But there's always that gray line).

                      The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for being historic.  Each one deserves closer attention.  Let's take, for example, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.  While these have rightly been held up as heroic exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever noted:  the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely collaborationist Judenrat.  The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto").  The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive.  The irony of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped out, as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from Warsaw.  Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration?  I don't know.  But survival is not that bad a goal.  It has some useful strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.

                      I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument now.  I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a worthy response.

                      Just one point for our discussion:  the right of self-defense covers a lot of sins.  It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir Square, to defend themselves against goons.  If a cop were beating me I'd certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows.  In Mississippi armed black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay.  But this is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy."  The Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent.  The goal was to split whites nationally, and it worked.  The same can be said for the gay movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is) fundamentally a nonviolent movement and has been successful as such.  But the Panthers and Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will always lose in this context.  Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big mistake in thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic.  It may have done a lot for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.

                      I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument?  Or are they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom movement?

                      My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the right to self-defense."  You seem to be arging for that, too.

                      Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence tends to unite the enemy, never a good strategy.  It also turns off friends.  On the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when the govt. went on the attack.  So the only base that was left to them was the white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che Guevara, etc., which was no base at all.  Huey Newton realized this in 1970 when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns, but by then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even talking self-defense.  The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result was disaster as well.  But the main point is that the former or potential black base evaporated because black people don't want to die.  "Revolutionary Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple meanings) is a horrible mass line.

                      As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and ineffectual rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli Jews and their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians.  Another strategic mistake.  (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats nonviolent tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen the militarism for what it is).  The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.

                      One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's mostly a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be humiliated.  Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks.  Absolutely ridiculous.

                      And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the right of self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to David Hilliard).  What a waste.  Or our friends with the BLA languishing in prison for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks' truck was revolutionary self-defense.  

                      Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison MARC) when people resort to violence.  
                      Better to keep it nonviolent.  People will be hurt or die both ways, but at least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the "right to self-defense." 

                      Does any of this make sense?  Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people what to do and what not to do?  

                      Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist military, which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need for Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood.  We were extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides).  I believe his line was "stop the killing."

                      When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to go out and murder other people.  Feh.

                      Love,








                      On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@...> wrote:
                       
                      In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,

                      I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.  
                      At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights Movement and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
                      However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a preferred tactic, but not the only sole form of action.

                      Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with force, including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
                      The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
                       
                      In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not go underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and situation.  At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia and police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion.  This rebellion changed history and improved the lives of countless people around the world, through such resistance.

                      The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc. are examples of how at times self defense including violence, are legitimate means and actions against oppression.  While I agree with Mark, that those who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a valid sole way to make real lasting change.  But the examples I give above of rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming violence by the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.

                      Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times when a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat Turner) and those who fought against the Confederacy and the
                      Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be declared as unacceptable. 

                      The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the answers and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as sole true believers and not wanting to work with people with different views, to spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may speak out against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize they themselves alone can not change what they oppose.  They turn to individual violence.  Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence.  The Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with their deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of violence, I then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades and not my enemy.  The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out against violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out many forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and greed.

                      John O'Brien
                         



                      To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
                      From: obenzinger@...
                      Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
                      Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake of Tucson



                    • jsok1948
                      Sue asked me to weigh in so against my better judgment I will. I find some of this discussion circular. Except for those among us who are absolute pacifists
                      Message 10 of 12 , Feb 17, 2011
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Sue asked me to weigh in so against my better judgment I will.

                        I find some of this discussion circular. Except for those among us who are absolute pacifists under any and all circumstances, we could all probably cite examples of circumstances in which some form of violence was morally justified, e.g.:

                        - self-defense of one's family and community
                        - resistance to the Nazis or other aggressors
                        - the cause of American (or Vietnamese) independence
                        - etc. etc. etc.

                        Nothing new here.

                        The discussion of particular historic cases is interesting. In the rural south, nonviolent civil rights activists were protected by an armed community (everyone in the south had guns) even though the public face of the movement was nonviolent. And as Tom points out, the mostly nonviolent Egyptian protestors defended themselves against attack with the weapons at hand. Still, the strategy they employed was to be as peaceful as possible, which is why they won widespread support internationally and domestically.

                        But this is not really the point Mark is trying to make in his public remarks. The point is not whether George Washington or Ho Chi Minh or Nelson Mandela was morally justified in turning to the use of violent means to achieve their ends. The real point is whether, in a free and democratic society such as ours, violent tactics (e.g., trashing, rioting, bombing, etc.) are either a morally justifiable or a useful tactic for creating social change.

                        Mark's point is that those who use such tactics are doing the enemy's work for them by discrediting the cause they seek to promote and by driving away people rather than winning them over.

                        I agree. America is not Amerika or AmeriKKKa. Throwing a garbage can through a Starbucks window is not an intelligent strategy for social reform. It is an excellent strategy for the enemies of social reform to encourage, because it is a proven path to isolation and defeat.

                        In essence, "diversity of tactics" means that one person claims the right to provoke police to bust another person's head, destroying the movement they both are supposed to support in the process.

                        Been there, done that: never again.

                        Let the attacks begin.

                        - Jeff



                        --- In CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com, Meredith Sue Willis <MeredithSueWillis@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > This ongoing discussion about peaceful resistance and self-defense and
                        > propaganda of the deed (which I would assume has to include the tactic of
                        > suicide bombings) is fascinating, and clarifying some things for me.
                        > MSW
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > On Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 11:41 PM, Eric Lerner <elerner@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > There is also a big difference between actual mass self-defense, as in
                        > > Egypt, and individualistic "propaganda of the deed", as with the Weathermen.
                        > > *Simply calling something "self-defense" does not make it so.* The
                        > > Weatherman strategy was the idea of individual or a small group, isolated
                        > > from the working class—or even in conflict with it—mobilizing the passive
                        > > masses through the example of some violent deed. As Mark vividly describes
                        > > in his memoir, the Weathermen came from backgrounds that made them feel
                        > > alien to workers—to the vast majority of the population. They wrote most
                        > > workers off as hopeless racists and reactionaries. Their strategy has
                        > > nothing at all to do with the collective self-defense that is sometimes
                        > > required by a mass movement.
                        > >
                        > > Eric Lerner
                        > >
                        > > I once spoke in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at a Mennonite Church, home of
                        > > pacificism and
                        > > nonviolence. This was in 1979, and I had just returned from Southern
                        > > Africa. There was
                        > > an African woman there who condemned the ANC and other liberation movements
                        > > which used
                        > > armed struggle. Interestingly, our Mennonite hosts understood that it was
                        > > one thing to
                        > > advocate nonviolence in the United States and another to hold South
                        > > Africans, Namibians,
                        > > Zimbabweans, Angolans, and Mozambicans to the same standard. If those
                        > > movements had not
                        > > engaged in armed struggle, they would still be living under apartheid and
                        > > colonialism.
                        > > Indeed, Portuguese fascism crumbled because of the cost of the wars and the
                        > > army's
                        > > opposition to them. So, I fervently agree that nonviolence is a tactic and
                        > > not an
                        > > inviolable principle. Nonviolence would also not have worked against
                        > > fascism in Europe
                        > > in the 1930s and 1940s.
                        > >
                        > > Steve Goldfield
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > Perhaps I have not followed the exchange closely enough, but there seems
                        > > to be a real mis-perception in your understanding of the events in Tahrir
                        > > Square. This eree occupation. It is true that the ideological and practical
                        > > envelope of the event was non-violent. As is made clear in The Times today,
                        > > the young leadership (such as it was) was convinced of the efficacy of
                        > > non-violence and dedicated to it. However, when the demonstrators in the
                        > > Square were violently attacked by thousands of paid thugs, NDP party workers
                        > > and er-- after an hour or so of non-violently accepting injury and
                        > > threatened defeat -- responded with controlled and disciplined violence.
                        > > Short of firearms, they met the weapons of the counter-demonstrators, rocks
                        > > for rocks, molotovs for molotovs, clubs for clubs. When the firing started,
                        > > it was the army who forced the thugs back with machine guns.
                        > >
                        > > Earlier in the week, the demonstrators had forced their way into Tahrir by
                        > > fighting the police -- who killed hundreds that night -- again using
                        > > disciplined and controlled, but very real, violence. In fact, they burned
                        > > the ruling party headquarters. Its burnt hulk stood as an emblem of rage at
                        > > the brutality of the Mukhabarat, and spurred people onward.
                        > >
                        > > At the same time, the overwhelming practice of the demonstrators was
                        > > disciplined non-violence, and constructive action. It was their example of
                        > > dedicated civility and intelligent advocacy that convinced the army, and the
                        > > watching world, that they must not be attacked. Because of this envelope of
                        > > non-violent attitude, the people of Egypt and the world learned to trust
                        > > them to become the future leaders -- in a way quite similar to the Civil
                        > > Rights Struggle in the American South.
                        > >
                        > > What is to be learned here? I'd argue we get into trouble when a tactic is
                        > > turned into a moral standard. Ideals like "the morality of non-violence." or
                        > > "the right of self-defense" should not be assumed as commandments. This only
                        > > cements our feet into rigid stances, and leaves us unable to meet the
                        > > various twists and turns of historical events. The young people of Egypt did
                        > > two things at the same time. They were non-violent in their approach, yet
                        > > used self defense (at the right time, in the appropriate way!) to protect
                        > > their movement from being crushed. They retained the suppleness of thinking
                        > > and practice that allowed them adjust their tactics, without violating their
                        > > basic non-violent approach.
                        > >
                        > > What will happen in the future in Egypt is still uncertain in the extreme.
                        > > The army, as its interests are threatened, may turn from protector of the
                        > > people to their attacker. And remember, it was the soldiers in the square
                        > > who protected the demonstrators from a potential blood bath. It is clear
                        > > that a non-violent, people-power approach can be very successful, up to a
                        > > point. Clear also is that the people need, at times, to defend themselves.
                        > >
                        > > How all this will work out in the Middle East is beyond any real
                        > > prediction. What is clear is that rigid ideals, waving the gun of
                        > > self-defense, or the bloody shirt of non-violence as commandments, are self
                        > > defeating.
                        > >
                        > > -- Tom
                        > >
                        > > --- In CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com, Mark Rudd <mark@> <mark@>wrote:
                        > > >
                        > > > John: You're absolutely right, and I was wrong, about Stonewall. Thinking
                        > > > about the significance of that event led me to wonder about whether a
                        > > > pattern can be discerned in the growth of movements involving initial
                        > > > defensive violence, followed by a long period of nonviolent struggle.
                        > > After
                        > > > Stonewall, decades of nonviolent struggle ensued. After the initial
                        > > > Zapatista armed takeovers, most all of the succeeding offensive and
                        > > > defensive actions of the movement were nonviolent. The 1999 Seattle WTO
                        > > > demonstrations were followed by numerous substantially nonviolent
                        > > > international demonstrations for global justice. That's three.
                        > > >
                        > > > Concerning the use of defensive arms in the South: Charles M. Payne, in
                        > > his
                        > > > brilliant study of the Mississippi freedom movement, "I've Got the Light
                        > > of
                        > > > Freedom," says that lynching and other terrorist attacks almost
                        > > immediately
                        > > > abated when the national news media shined their light on Mississippi.
                        > > The
                        > > > beginning of the end for the terrorists was the 1955 murder of Emmett
                        > > Till,
                        > > > a nationally publicized event, but whenever local violence was exposed in
                        > > > the national media, including the 1964 slaying of the three civil rights
                        > > > workers, the terror died down. It was as if the local ruling structure
                        > > used
                        > > > both the police and irregular forces (as in Egypt) to impose terror, but
                        > > > when they decided to back down, the terror lessened. They turned it off
                        > > > because the costs to them were too great. And I don't think those costs
                        > > had
                        > > > to do with an occasional KKK guy getting blown away.
                        > > >
                        > > > In this discussion I haven't used any moral or spiritual arguments,
                        > > though I
                        > > > believe strongly that such arguments exist. I've only argued out of
                        > > > pragmatism. I do wish you'd address the arguments I made concerning the
                        > > > self-defeating nature of "revolutionary violence:" the isolation, the
                        > > arming
                        > > > of the enemy, the errors.
                        > > >
                        > > > I believe our debate to be important because a handful of young activists
                        > > in
                        > > > certain movements such as environmental and animal rights have in the
                        > > last
                        > > > decade decided that "direct action" is useful. Many of them have landed
                        > > in
                        > > > prison and the movements have been unnecessarily tainted as "terrorist"
                        > > by
                        > > > the government. For example, there's a law concerning "Animal Enterprise
                        > > > Terrorism" which defines terrorism as the loss of $10,000 or more to a
                        > > > company or organization dealing with animals. Right now six people are in
                        > > > federal prison for "conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism."
                        > > > (Huntingdon Life Sciences case). Their crime was using computers to
                        > > > organize a secondary boycott, which historically has been considered a
                        > > > nonviolent tactic.
                        > > >
                        > > > My point is that there is no such thing as "diversity of tactics." A tiny
                        > > > group of people claiming "the right of self-defense" undermines the work
                        > > of
                        > > > hundreds of thousands of others who have for sound strategic reasons
                        > > > proclaimed our movement to be nonviolent. I often tell young people that
                        > > > anyone who advocates violence is either very very stupid or a cop or
                        > > both.
                        > > > Sorry for the implication of disrespect: I need to draw a clear line.
                        > > > However, I do recognize that my position is not that effective, since
                        > > most
                        > > > of the kids I talk with are instantly turned off by my evident
                        > > disrespect,
                        > > > not being used to that level of criticism. Perhaps I need to pat them on
                        > > > the head and tell them how well-meaning they are but that I respectfully
                        > > > disagree.
                        > > >
                        > > > Speaking of respect, the fact that we listen to each other is the
                        > > absolute
                        > > > highest form of respect possible.
                        > > >
                        > > > Long live the memory of the martyrs of Tahrir Square! And on and on.
                        > > >
                        > > > M
                        > > >
                        > > > On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 9:09 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@><causecollector@>wrote:
                        > > >
                        > > > > Mark,
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Since I have always respected and admired you, even when we disagreed
                        > > on
                        > > > > tactics in 1969 and I did not join you and others in going underground
                        > > - you
                        > > > > were and are my comrade!
                        > > > > I will be happy to give you time to fully respond. As a former pacifist
                        > > > > when I was in the Civil Rights Movement in SNCC and was a member of the
                        > > SPU,
                        > > > > I recognize your concerns and
                        > > > > truly honor and respect those who have dedicated their lives to
                        > > > > non-violence. However, I must disagree when you state the Stonewall
                        > > > > Rebellion was non-violent, as a leading participant in that event that
                        > > > > lasted for 5 days, I can verify it was not. I do not say my pacifist
                        > > > > friends should be violent, just allow those like myself THE RIGHT
                        > > should it
                        > > > > be needed as the only way for me and others, who see the need to self
                        > > > > defense. I will physically defend myself when attacked by homophobes
                        > > and
                        > > > > will not endure their physical attacks and hurt to me. I will resist
                        > > and
                        > > > > not be a martyr, but instead an example to other Gay people, to be
                        > > proud and
                        > > > > stand up and not be a victim.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Tonight I will stay up watching television to see what next unfolds in
                        > > > > Egypt, with Mubarak refusing to leave and Friday approaching with mass
                        > > > > protests planned following Islamic prayers. We can hope that those
                        > > involved
                        > > > > will SUCCEED with non-violence, to both remove the Mubarak regime AND
                        > > to set
                        > > > > up a socialist (non-stalinist) republic. It may be possible and be an
                        > > > > incredible example and historic event that we see unfolding. But
                        > > throughout
                        > > > > history, those in power who do great harm, have many times refused to
                        > > > > recognize the decency and humanity of their opponents, who have
                        > > nonviolently
                        > > > > resisted their oppression.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > I am sadly aware of the role the Judenrat and others performed in
                        > > various
                        > > > > camps and communities, collaborating with fascists to try and stay
                        > > alive for
                        > > > > their own personal well being.
                        > > > > However, I do not think, that has anything to do with my point about
                        > > not
                        > > > > only the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Paole Zion and the other groups), but
                        > > > > other Jews and non-Jews who resisted the fascists with violence
                        > > (partisan
                        > > > > and resistance groups), in all parts of the world at that time, other
                        > > than
                        > > > > by non-violent means.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > It would be unfair for me to state, that because throughout history it
                        > > has
                        > > > > taken violence to remove horrible dictators, slavery and a long list of
                        > > > > injustices - that it MUST always be that way. I am not suggesting that.
                        > > I
                        > > > > am only stating what has mainly been and that we should prefer
                        > > non-violence
                        > > > > as a preferred tactic, but be prepared to also use self defense in
                        > > physical
                        > > > > form IF IT IS THE ONLY WAY. It certainly was to bring an end to so many
                        > > > > despots. However, short term changes in governments and events have
                        > > been
                        > > > > won with non-violence by those seeking change. Very often the rulers in
                        > > > > these events have used violence, but were still defeated. Many other
                        > > times
                        > > > > those who used violence won and crushed those rebelling non-violently.
                        > > This
                        > > > > is why it is a tactical issue and not a principled issue for me, to use
                        > > > > force when needed to defend myself and others.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > I can only say - I respect you and my other friends, who are believers
                        > > in
                        > > > > absolute non-violence. However, there are times when another way needs
                        > > to
                        > > > > be done, to make positive change. If I did not help instigate violence
                        > > > > against the police at Stonewall, the police would have done as they had
                        > > > > always done before - and another bar raid would have not made much
                        > > notice.
                        > > > > Gay individuals and groups had previously protested peacefully against
                        > > the
                        > > > > police in New York and a number of other localities around the world -
                        > > BUT
                        > > > > it was the use of violent response (in breaking store windows,
                        > > attacking
                        > > > > police, etc.) that caught the notice and attention worldwide that
                        > > CREATED
                        > > > > immediate change in consciousness for many and
                        > > > > willingness to stand up and resist, including in risking their lives.
                        > > > > This is why it is correctly called the Stonewall
                        > > > > Revolution/Rebellion/Uprising and not the Stonewall Protest!
                        > > > >
                        > > > > I do not believe that the previous white rioters rampaging through
                        > > Black
                        > > > > communities were stopped because of non-violence. I believe it is
                        > > because
                        > > > > they feared and fear they would get hurt, if they tried to do that more
                        > > and
                        > > > > more after WWII. Not because of the Civil Rights Movement, which was a
                        > > > > wonderful example of how non-violence as a tactic can advance ones
                        > > cause and
                        > > > > issues, taking the high road against injustice. The KKK had NO RESPECT
                        > > OR
                        > > > > CARED about those who used nonviolence, by those it viewed as its
                        > > enemies.
                        > > > > They were happy to explode bombs and shoot and lynch whomever they
                        > > could get
                        > > > > away with - BUT when Black veterans returned from WWII, they did not
                        > > just
                        > > > > willingly then lay down their guns and ALLOW themselves to be lynched
                        > > and
                        > > > > hurt. The Deacons For Defense (Robert Williams) was the most known
                        > > group,
                        > > > > but it was COMMON for black verterans to stand up to white vigilante
                        > > terror
                        > > > > with arms AND THAT STOPPED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE. It was not the
                        > > nonviolent
                        > > > > demonstartors like myself, who won politically the civil rights
                        > > > > access issues. The ACTUAL VIOLENCE ENDED, becuase of fear among the KKK
                        > > and
                        > > > > individual racists - that they would get hurt if they tried to attack
                        > > Black
                        > > > > people in their communities BOTH North and South. The police were NOT a
                        > > > > dependable tool to support justice and stop violence against Balck
                        > > people in
                        > > > > the U. S., or for Gays and Lesbians, or for most peoples in most
                        > > nations
                        > > > > around the world and through history. The police SUPPORTED the ruling
                        > > > > dicatators. The unarmed people were at their mercy throughout most of
                        > > > > history, until they armed themselves and resisted (as in Egypt recently
                        > > > > when the police were physically resisted, first while the poilce were
                        > > in
                        > > > > uniform on the famous bridge and then when they were in plain clothes
                        > > > > attacking the demonstrators days later. The protesters formed self
                        > > defense
                        > > > > groups and fought back to defeat the police - which is how they held on
                        > > > > to the square in Cairo and kept the pressure on the Mubarak Regime - it
                        > > was
                        > > > > NOT just nonviolence that was used here. I think this is important to
                        > > see
                        > > > > and we shall see how this goes over this month in Egypt - it could be
                        > > truly
                        > > > > historic!)
                        > > > >
                        > > > > I look forward to continuing this respectful discussion - when you have
                        > > > > time to respond to my points.
                        > > > > As always - your comrade.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Love,
                        > > > >
                        > > > > John O'Brien
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > > ------------------------------
                        > > > > Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2011 21:19:34 -0700
                        > > > > Subject: Re: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the
                        > > Wake
                        > > > > of Tucson
                        > > > > From: mark@
                        > > > > To: causecollector@; CU68-08Event@yahoogroups.com
                        > > > > CC: hobnzngr@; BOCO4E@
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Hi John: I've been meaning to write you back after your really
                        > > thoughtful
                        > > > > rejoinder to my piece on nonviolence. Hilton especially urged me to do
                        > > so.
                        > > > > But I got so caught up in watching the Egyptian events that I thought
                        > > each
                        > > > > day would bring "victory," whatever that might look like, and therefore
                        > > > > another case study for nonviolence. Of course things are never that
                        > > simple.
                        > > > > Or, to quote Comrade Hilton, "You never know."
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Before I begin let me say that my original Washington Post piece on the
                        > > > > Tucson shooting and even the expanded Counterpunch version were both
                        > > > > premature and unfortunate in that Loughner's politics have been lost in
                        > > the
                        > > > > fact that he was obviously insane. I like to think that I wasn't 42
                        > > years
                        > > > > ago. (But there's always that gray line).
                        > > > >
                        > > > > The objections to my argument you raise are exceedingly powerful for
                        > > being
                        > > > > historic. Each one deserves closer attention. Let's take, for example,
                        > > the
                        > > > > Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings. While these have rightly been held up as
                        > > heroic
                        > > > > exemplars of resistance, there's a curious fact which is rarely if ever
                        > > > > noted: the Lodz ghetto, the second largest, had an entirely
                        > > > > collaborationist Judenrat. The ghetto manufactured uniforms for the
                        > > > > Wehrmacht, mostly out of rags, some of which came back from early death
                        > > > > camps (see "King of the Jews" by Leslie Epstein as well as "The
                        > > Chronicle of
                        > > > > the Lodz Ghetto"). The Judenrat's thinking was that if the Jews of Lodz
                        > > > > made themselves indispensible to the Nazis, more would survive. The
                        > > irony
                        > > > > of the situation is that, though the Lodz ghetto was eventually wiped
                        > > out,
                        > > > > as was Warsaw, more people from Lodz did survive the war than from
                        > > Warsaw.
                        > > > > Does this prove anything about violence, nonviolence, or collaboration?
                        > > I
                        > > > > don't know. But survival is not that bad a goal. It has some useful
                        > > > > strategic elements, especially when compared to sure death and defeat.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > I don't mean to dispute each example or to take on your whole argument
                        > > now.
                        > > > > I'm actually writing to ask you for a bit more time to formulate a
                        > > worthy
                        > > > > response.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Just one point for our discussion: the right of self-defense covers a
                        > > lot
                        > > > > of sins. It makes perfect sense, as in the case of the people in Tahrir
                        > > > > Square, to defend themselves against goons. If a cop were beating me
                        > > I'd
                        > > > > certainly want to put up my arms to stop the blows. In Mississippi
                        > > armed
                        > > > > black people often kept the worst of the white terrorism at bay. But
                        > > this
                        > > > > is not what I'm talking about when I refer to "nonviolent strategy."
                        > > The
                        > > > > Southern civil rights movement was strategically nonviolent. The goal
                        > > was
                        > > > > to split whites nationally, and it worked. The same can be said for the
                        > > gay
                        > > > > movement, despite the heroism of Stonewall, it was (and Is)
                        > > fundamentally a
                        > > > > nonviolent movement and has been successful as such. But the Panthers
                        > > and
                        > > > > Weatherman and a whole lot of others still paying the price such as our
                        > > > > friends who worked with the BLA confused the right to self-defense with
                        > > > > "revolutionary violence," which is predictably a strategy that will
                        > > always
                        > > > > lose in this context. Black Power, including Malcolm, made a big
                        > > mistake in
                        > > > > thinking that "by any means necessary" is strategic. It may have done a
                        > > lot
                        > > > > for morale, but it also guaranteed defeat.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > I wonder if any former Black Power advocates make this argument? Or are
                        > > > > they still defending the value of that turn in the black freedom
                        > > movement?
                        > > > >
                        > > > > My old friend, Bob Tomashevsky and I are engaged in an argument on "the
                        > > > > right to self-defense." You seem to be arging for that, too.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Part of the problem of "the right to self-defense" is that violence
                        > > tends
                        > > > > to unite the enemy, never a good strategy. It also turns off friends.
                        > > On
                        > > > > the latter point, the Panthers' black base in Oakland, Chicago, NYC and
                        > > > > elsewhere evaporated when things got really hot, starting in 1969 when
                        > > the
                        > > > > govt. went on the attack. So the only base that was left to them was
                        > > the
                        > > > > white New Left, with our fantasies of heroic violent revolution, Che
                        > > > > Guevara, etc., which was no base at all. Huey Newton realized this in
                        > > 1970
                        > > > > when he got out of prison and ordered the party to put away the guns,
                        > > but by
                        > > > > then it was too late since the govt wouldn't let up against anyone even
                        > > > > talking self-defense. The NY Panthers kept their guns and the result
                        > > was
                        > > > > disaster as well. But the main point is that the former or potential
                        > > black
                        > > > > base evaporated because black people don't want to die. "Revolutionary
                        > > > > Suicide" (I know what Huey meant by the phrase, but it has multiple
                        > > > > meanings) is a horrible mass line.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > As for dividing or uniting the enemy, the "right of self-defense" in
                        > > > > Palestine, which in effect took the form of suicide bombings and
                        > > ineffectual
                        > > > > rockets, served the Israeli militarists well in uniting the Israeli
                        > > Jews and
                        > > > > their American supporters in fear against the Palestinians. Another
                        > > > > strategic mistake. (I'm not saying that the Israeli army treats
                        > > nonviolent
                        > > > > tactics with kid gloves, just that more Israeli Jews would have seen
                        > > the
                        > > > > militarism for what it is). The ANC was brilliant in the judicious and
                        > > > > sparse use of violence, not to unite the enemy against them.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > One of the worst aspects of "the right of self-defense" is that it's
                        > > mostly
                        > > > > a cover for macho--ie., men needing to prove themselves, to not be
                        > > > > humiliated. Think of Edward Said and his kids throwing rocks.
                        > > Absolutely
                        > > > > ridiculous.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > And then there was Eldridge Cleaver, who, under the banner of "the
                        > > right of
                        > > > > self-defense" set up ambushes of cops in West Oakland (according to
                        > > David
                        > > > > Hilliard). What a waste. Or our friends with the BLA languishing in
                        > > prison
                        > > > > for the rest of their lives still believing that robbing a Brinks'
                        > > truck was
                        > > > > revolutionary self-defense.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Too many mistakes are made (such as W. 11th St or Brinks or the Madison
                        > > > > MARC) when people resort to violence.
                        > > > > Better to keep it nonviolent. People will be hurt or die both ways, but
                        > > at
                        > > > > least we won't be constantly having to apologize while defending the
                        > > "right
                        > > > > to self-defense."
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Does any of this make sense? Or am I a hopeless liberal telling people
                        > > > > what to do and what not to do?
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Even the Vietnamese revolution and the defeat of the imperialist
                        > > military,
                        > > > > which we all cheered, has some inevitable negatives, such as the need
                        > > for
                        > > > > Stalinist repression to safeguard the achievements bought in blood. We
                        > > were
                        > > > > extremely ignorant in not having given attention to a "third way," as
                        > > > > proposed by Thich Nhat Hanh (persecuted by both sides). I believe his
                        > > line
                        > > > > was "stop the killing."
                        > > > >
                        > > > > When it comes down to it "the right of self-defense" is an argument to
                        > > go
                        > > > > out and murder other people. Feh.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Love,
                        > > > >
                        > > > > M
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > > On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 7:12 PM, John Obrien <causecollector@><causecollector@>
                        > > wrote:
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > > In response to Brother/Comrade Rudd,
                        > > > >
                        > > > > I read your article on promoting only nonviolence as a response.
                        > > > > At one time in my life, I was a young person in the Civil Rights
                        > > Movement
                        > > > > and the Student Peace Union, who considered myself a pacifist.
                        > > > > However, I came to understand that nonviolence was for myself a
                        > > preferred
                        > > > > tactic, but not the only sole form of action.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Among the examples for this, were those who fought the Nazis with
                        > > force,
                        > > > > including the heroic figures in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprisings.
                        > > > > The view of M. Gandhi that this violent resistance was wrong and ONLY
                        > > > > nonviolence must be used - was incorrect as history shows.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > In 1969, I was with SDS and followed/admired Mark Rudd, but I did not
                        > > go
                        > > > > underground with what became the Weathermen, because I believed these
                        > > > > sincere people misunderstood the actual political conditions and
                        > > situation.
                        > > > > At this same time, I took part in a violent protest against homophobia
                        > > and
                        > > > > police abuse, in the historic Stonewall Rebellion. This rebellion
                        > > changed
                        > > > > history and improved the lives of countless people around the world,
                        > > through
                        > > > > such resistance.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > The Sowetho Township Rebellion (South Africa), the Easter
                        > > > > Rebellion(Ireland) and the current rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt, etc.
                        > > are
                        > > > > examples of how at times self defense including violence, are
                        > > legitimate
                        > > > > means and actions against oppression. While I agree with Mark, that
                        > > those
                        > > > > who wanted to romanticize violence, to justify their own anger and
                        > > > > frustration and inabilities, as a response to oppression, was/is not a
                        > > valid
                        > > > > sole way to make real lasting change. But the examples I give above of
                        > > > > rebellions (and there are many more) and sadly the likely coming
                        > > violence by
                        > > > > the Egyptian military state and other reactionaries, should not make
                        > > > > consideration of ONLY non-violence as a way to operate politically.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Non-violence is obviously a preferred way over violence, but at times
                        > > when
                        > > > > a people have no REAL alternative and choice, but to defend themselves
                        > > > > against violence, such as in the slave revolts (Spartacus to Nat
                        > > Turner) and
                        > > > > those who fought against the Confederacy and the
                        > > > > Nazis in violent military actions, this farm of resistance can not be
                        > > > > declared as unacceptable.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > The problem is more with those with a mind set of having all the
                        > > answers
                        > > > > and right to do whatever, because they themselves want to. They act as
                        > > sole
                        > > > > true believers and not wanting to work with people with different
                        > > views, to
                        > > > > spend needed hard work and time, to create a more effective larger and
                        > > > > successful movement, to end the injustice and oppression. They may
                        > > speak out
                        > > > > against injustice, but have no clear view on how to end it and realize
                        > > they
                        > > > > themselves alone can not change what they oppose. They turn to
                        > > individual
                        > > > > violence. Some of the best examples of this mistake are by dedicated
                        > > > > Anarchists who insisted on the symbolic individual deeds of violence.
                        > > The
                        > > > > Weathermen acted in this tradition, but while I disagreed in 1969 with
                        > > their
                        > > > > deciding to go underground and carry out individualist deeds of
                        > > violence, I
                        > > > > then and now have always considered them my brothers/sisters/comrades
                        > > and
                        > > > > not my enemy. The Capitalist rulers who hypocritically speak out
                        > > against
                        > > > > violence, while they and those who work for them, continue to carry out
                        > > many
                        > > > > forms of violence against humanity and the planet itself, for power and
                        > > > > greed.
                        > > > >
                        > > > > John O'Brien
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > > ------------------------------
                        > > > > To: CU68-08event@yahoogroups.com
                        > > > > From: obenzinger@
                        > > > > Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:48:58 +0000
                        > > > > Subject: [CU68-08Event] Mark Rudd on Violence/Nonviolence in the Wake
                        > > of
                        > > > > Tucson
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > > http://www.counterpunch.org/rudd01182011.html
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        > >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > --
                        > *Meredith Sue Willis*
                        > http://www.meredithsuewillis.com
                        > New Book: OUT OF THE MOUNTAINS: Appalachian Stories. Visit
                        > http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/Out+of+the+Mountains
                        >
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