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How Nonviolence

How Nonviolence

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copyright © 2007 by Peter Gelderloos

Any properly footnoted quotation of up to 500 sequential words may be
used without permission, as long as the total number of words quoted
does not exceed 2,000. For longer quotations or for a greater number of
total words, please write to South End Press for permission.
Discounted bulk quantities of this book are available for organizing,
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for more information.
Cover design by Design Action Col1ective
Cover photographs: Josh Reynolds, www.joshreynoldsphoro.corn
Text design by Alexander Dwinel1, South End Press col1ective
Printed in Canada by union labor on acid-free paper.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Gelderloos, Peter.
How nonviolence protects the state / Peter Gelderloos.
p.cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-89608-772-9
1. Nonviolence. 1. Title.
HM128I.G452007
303.6-<1c22
2007000848
South End Press
7 Brookline Street # 1
Cambridge, MA 02139-4146
www.southendpress.org
11 10 09 08 07 12345678
And they say that the beauty's in the streets
but when I look around it seems more like defeat
-Defiance Ohio
This book is dedicated to Sue Daniels (1960-2004), a brilliant
ecologist, bold feminist, passionate anarchist, and beautiful and car­
ing human being who nurtured and challenged everyone around
her. Your bravery and wisdom continue to inspire me, and in that
wayyour spirit remains indomitable...
...and to Greg Michael (1961-2006), who embodied health,
as a wholeness of being and an indefatigable quest against the
poisons of our world, even in the unhealthiest of circumstances.
From a bag of raisins stolen from the prison kitchen to the
unfolding of memory on a mountaintop, the gifts you have
given me are a salve and a weapon, and they will stay with me
until the last prison is a pile of rubble.
Special thanks to Megan, Patrick, Carl, Gopal, and Sue D. for
proofreading or giving me feedback, and to Sue F., James, Iris,
Marc, Edi, Alexander, Jessica, Esther, and everyone who came to
the workshops for criticism valuable to this second edition.
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION 1
CHAPTER ONE
NONV[OLENCE [S [NEFFECT[VE
7
CHAPTER TWO
NONVIOLENCE [S RAC[ST
23
CHAPTER THREE
NONVIOLENCE [S STAT[ST
45
CHAPTER FOUR
NONVIOLENCE [S PATRIARCHAL
65
CHAPTER FIVE 81
NONV[OLENCE [S TACTICALLY & STRATEGICALLY INFER[OR
CHAPTER SIX 117
NONV[OLENCE [S DELUDED
CHAPTER SEVEN 135
THE ALTERNAT[VE:
POSSIBILlT[ES FOR REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM
Endnotes 144
Index 171
Recommended Reading 180
About the Author 182
1
In August 2004, at the North
American Anarchist Convergence
in Athens, Ohio, I participated
in a panel discussing the topic of
nonviolence versus violence. Pre­
dictably, the discussion turned into
• an unproductive and competitive
debate. I had hoped that each pan­
elist would be given a substantial
amount of time to speak in order
to present our ideas in depth and
INTRODUCTION to limit the likely alternative of a
back-and-forth volley of cliched
arguments. But the facilitator, who
was also a conference organizer, and on top of that a panelist,
decided against this approach.
Because of the hegemony advocates of nonviolence ex­
ert, criticisms of nonviolence are excluded from the major
periodicals, alternative media, and other forums accessed by
anti-authoritarians.' Nonviolence is maintained as an article
of faith, and as a key to full inclusion within the movement.
Anti-authoritarians and anti-capitalists who suggest or practice
militancy suddenly find themselves abandoned by the same
1
pacifists they've just marched with at the latest protest. Once
isolated, militants lose access to resources, and they lose protec­
tion from being scapegoated by the media or criminalized by
the government. Within these dynamics caused by the knee-jerk
isolation of those who do not conform to nonviolence, there is
no possibility for a healthy or critical discourse to evaluate our
chosen strategies.
In my experience, most people who are becoming involved
with radical movements have never heard good arguments, or even
bad ones, against nonviolence. This is true even when they already
know a great deal about other movement issues. Instead, they tend
I 1 I
i

PETER GElDERLOOS
to be acquainted with the aura of taboo that shrouds militants; to
have internalized the fear and disdain the corporate media reserve
for people willing to actually fight against capitalism and the state;
and to have confused the isolation imposed on militants with some
self-imposed isolation that must be inherent in militancy. Most pro­
ponents of nonviolence with whom I have discussed these issues,
and these have been many, approached the conversation like it was
a foregone conclusion that the use of violence in social movements
was both wrong and self-defeating (at least if it occurred anywhere
within 1,000 miles of them). On the contrary, there are a great many
solid arguments against nonviolence that pacifists have simply failed
to answer in their literature.
This book will show that nonviolence, in its current manifes­
tations, is based on falsified histories of struggle. It has implicit
and explicit connections to white people's manipulations of the
struggles of people of color. Its methods are wrapped in authori­
tarian dynamics, and its results are harnessed to meet government
objectives over popular objectives. It masks and even encourages
patriarchal assumptions and power dynamics. Its strategic options
invariably lead to dead ends. And its practitioners delude them­
selves on a number of key points.
Given these conclusions, if our movements are to have any
possibility of destroying oppressive systems such as capitalism and
white supremacy and building a free and healthy world, we must
spread these criticisms and end the stranglehold of nonviolence
over discourse while developing more effective forms of struggle.
We might say that the purpose of a conversation is to persuade
and be persuaded, while the purpose of a debate is to win, and
thus silence your opponent. One of the first steps to success in any
debate is to control the terminology to give oneself the advantage
and put one's opponents at a disadvantage. This is exactly what
pacifists have done in phrasing the disagreement as nonviolence versus
violence. Critics of nonviolence typically use this dichotomy, with
which most of us fundamentally disagree, and push to expand the
I 2 I
lNfRODUCllON
boundaries of nonviolence so that tactics we support, such as prop­
erty destruction, may be accepted within a nonviolent framework,
indicating how disempowered and delegitimized we are.
\
. I know of no activist, revolutionary, or theorist relevant to the
movement today who advocates only the use of violent tactics and
opposes any usage of tactics that could not be called violent. We
are advocates of a diversity of tactics, meaning effective combina­
tions drawn from a full range of tactics that might lead to lib­
eration from all the components of this oppressive system: white
supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and the state. We believe that
tactics should be chosen to fit the particular situation, not drawn
from a preconceived moral code. We also tend to believe that
means are reflected in the ends, and would not want to act in a
way that invariably would lead to dictatorship or some other form
of society that does not respect life and freedom. As such, we can
more accurately be described as proponents of revolutionary or
militant activism than as proponents of violence.'
I will refer to proponents of nonviolence by their chosen
nomenclature, as nonviolent activists or, interchangeably, paci­
fists. Many practitioners of such prefer one term or the other,
and some even make a distinction between the two, but in my
experience the distinctions are not consistent from one person
to the next. Most importantly, pacifists/nonviolent activists
themselves tend to collaborate regardless of their chosen term,
so the difference in labels is not important to the considerations
of this book. Broadly, by using the term pacifism or nonviolence,
they designate a way of life or a method of social activism that
avoids, transforms, or excludes violence while attempting to
change society to create a more peaceful and free world.
At this point it might help to clearly define violence, but one
of the critical arguments of this book is that violence cannot be
clearly defined. I should also clarify a few other terms that pop up
frequently. The word radical I use literally, to mean a critique, ac­
tion, or person that goes to the roots of a particular problem rather
I 3 I
('
PEITR GELDERLOOS
than focusing on the superficial solutions placed on the table by
the prejudices and powers of the day. The word is not a synonym
for extreme or extremist, much as the media would have us believe it
is, through ignorance or design. (Similarly, in case anyone is still
unclear: an anarchist is not someone who favors chaos but someone
who favors the total liberation of the world through the abolition of
capitalism, government, and all other forms of oppressive authority,
to be replaced by any number of other social arrangements, proven
or utopian.) On the other hand, I do not use the word revolution
literally, to mean the overthrow of current rulers by a new set of
rulers (which would make anti-authoritarian revolution an oxymoron),
but only to mean a social upheaval with widespread transforma­
tive effects. I use this word only because it has such long-standing
favorable connotations, and because the more accurate alternative,
liberation, is clumsy in its adjectival forms.
To reemphasize a crucial distinction: the criticisms in this
book are not aimed at specific actions that do not exemplify vio­
lent behavior, such as a vigil that remains peaceful, nor are they
aimed at individual activists who choose to dedicate themselves
to noncombative work, such as healing or building strong com­
munity relationships. When I talk about pacifists and advocates
of nonviolence, I am referring to those who would impose their
ideology across the entire movement and dissuade other activists
from militancy (including the use of violence), or who would not
support other activists solely because of their militancy. Likewise,
an ideal revolutionary activist would not be one who obsessively
focuses on fighting cops or engaging in clandestine acts of sabo­
tage, but one who embraces and supports these activities, where
effective, as one portion of a broad range of actions needed to
overthrow the state and build a better world.
Though I focus on debunking pacifism in service of revolu­
tionary goals, in this book I include quotes from pacifists working
for limited reforms in addition to quotes from people working
for total social transformation. At first, this may seem like I am
I 4 I
INTRODUCTION
building a straw-man argument; however, I include the words or
actions of reformist pacifists only in reference to campaigns where
they worked together closely with revolutionary pacifists and the
quoted material has relevance to all involved, or in reference to so­
cial struggles cited as examples proving the effectiveness of nonvio­
lence in achieving revolutionary ends. It is difficult to distinguish
between revolutionary and non-revolutionary pacifists, because
they themselves tend not to make that distinction in the course
of their activity-they work together, attend protests together, and
frequently use the same tactics at the same actions. Because shared
commitment to nonviolence, and not shared commitment to a
revolutionary goal, is the chief criterion for nonviolent activists in
deciding whom to work with, those are the boundaries I will use
in defining these criticisms.
15\
/'
r
1
I could spend plenty of time talking
about the failures of nonviolence.
Instead, it may be more useful to talk
about the successes of nonviolence.
Pacifism would hardly be attractive to
its supporters if the ideology had pro­
duced no historical victories. Typical
examples are the independence of
India from British colonial rule, caps
on the nuclear arms race, the civil
rights movement of the 1960s, and
NONVIOLENCE IS the peace movement during the war
against Vietnam.' And though they
INEFFECTIVE
have not yet been hailed as a victory,
the massive protests in 2003 against the US invasion of Iraq have
been much applauded by nonviolent activists.!
There is a pattern to the historical manipulation and white­
washing evident in every single victory claimed by nonviolent
activists. The pacifist position requires that success must be at­
triburable to pacifist tactics and pacifist tactics alone, whereas the
rest of us believe that change comes from the whole spectrum of
tactics present in any revolutionary situation, provided they are
deployed effectively. Because no major social conflict exhibits a
uniformity of tactics and ideologies, which is to say that all such
conflicts exhibit pacifist tactics and decidedly nonpacifist tactics,
pacifists have to erase the history that disagrees with them or,
alternately, blame their failures on the contemporary presence
of violent struggle.'
In India, the story goes, people under the leadership of Gandhi
built up a massive nonviolent movement over decades and engaged
in protest, noncooperation, economic boycotts, and exemplary
hunger strikes and acts of disobedience to make British imperial­
ism unworkable. They suffered massacres and responded with a
couple of riots, but, on the whole, the movement was nonviolent
I 7 I
PETr.R GELDERLOOS
and, after persevering for decades, the Indian people won their in­
dependence, providing an undeniable hallmark of pacifist victory.
The actual history is more complicated, in that many violent pres­
sures also informed the British decision to withdraw. The British
had lost the ability to maintain colonial power after losing millions
of troops and a great deal of other resources during two extremely
violent world wars, the second of which especially devastated the
"mother country." The armed struggles of Arab and Jewish mili­
tants in Palestine from 1945 to 1948 further weakened the British
Empire, and presented a clear threat that the Indians might give up
civil disobedience and take up arms en masse if ignored for long
enough; this cannot be excluded as a factor in the decision of the
British to relinquish direct colonial administration.
We realize this threat to be even more direct when we under­
stand that the pacifist history of India's independence movement is
a selective and incomplete picture-nonviolence was not universal in
India. Resistance to British colonialism included enough militancy
that the Gandhian method can be viewed most accurately as one
of several competing forms of popular resistance. As part of a dis­
turbingly universal pattern, pacifists white out those other forms of
resistance and help propagate the false history that Gandhi and his
disciples were the lone masthead and rudder of Indian resistance.
Ignored are important militant leaders such as Chandrasekhar
Azad," who fought in armed struggle against the British colonizers,
and revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh, who won mass support
for bombings and assassinations as part of a struggle to accomplish
the "overthrowof both foreign and Indian capitalism." The pacifist
history of India's struggle cannot make any sense of the fact that
Subhas Chandra Bose, the militant candidate, was twice elected
president of the Indian National Congress, in 1938 and 1939.
6
While Gandhi was perhaps the most singularly influential and
popular figure in India's independence struggle, the leadership
position he assumed did not always enjoy the consistent backing
of the masses. Gandhi lost so much support from Indians when he
I 8 I
NONVIOLENCE ISINfffECTNE
"called off the movement" after the 1922 riot that when the British
locked him up afterwards, "not a ripple of protest arose in India at
his arrest."? Significantly, history remembers Gandhi above all oth­
ers not because he represented the unanimous voice of India, but
because of all the attention he was given by the British press and the
prominence he received from being included in important negotia­
tions with the British colonial government. When we remember
that history is written by the victors, another layer of the myth of
Indian independence comes unraveled.
The sorriest aspect of pacifists' claim that the independence of
India is a victory for nonviolence is that this claim plays directly
into the historical fabrication carried out in the interests of the 1
white-supremacist, imperialist states that colonized the Global
South. The liberation movement in India failed. The British were
not forced to quit India. Rather, they chose to transfer the ter­
ritory from direct colonial rule to neocolonial rule," What kind
of victory allows the losing side to dictate the time and manner
of the victors' ascendancy? The British authored the new consti­
tution and turned power over to handpicked successors. They
fanned the flames of religious and ethnic separatism so that
India would be divided against itself, prevented from gaining
peace and prosperity, and dependent on military aid and other
support from Euro/American states." India is still exploited by
Euro/ American corporations (though several new Indian corpo­
rations, mostly subsidiaries, have joined in the pillaging), and still
provides resources and markets for the imperialist states. In many
ways the poverty of its people has deepened and the exploitation
has become more efficient. Independence from colonial rule has
given India more autonomy in a few areas, and it has certainly
allowed a handful of Indians to sit in the seats of power, but the
.ofthe commons
Moreover, India lost a clear opportunity for

meaningful liberation from an easily recognizable foreign oppres­
sor. Any liberation movement now would have to go up against
I 9 I
PETER Gfl.DERLOOS
the confounding dynamics of nationalism and ethnic/religious
rivalry in order to abolish a domestic capitalism and government
that are far more developed. On balance, the independence
movement proves to have failed.
The claim of a pacifist victory in capping the nuclear arms race
is somewhat bizarre. Once again, the movement was not exclusively
nonviolent; it included groups that carried out a number of bomb­
ings and other acts of sabotage or guerrilla warfare.'? And, again, the
victory is a dubious one. The much-ignored nonproliferation rreaties
only came after the arms race had already been won, with the US as
undisputed nuclear hegemon in possession of more nuclear weap­
ons than was even practical or useful. And it seems clear that prolif­
eration continues as needed, currently in the form of tactical nuke
development and a new wave of proposed nuclear power facilities.
Really, the entire issue seems to have been settled more as a matter
of internal policy within the government than as a conflict between
a social movement and a government. Chernobyl and several near
meltdowns in the US showed that nuclear energy (a necessary com­
ponent of nuclear arms development) was something of a liability,
and it doesn't take a protestor to question the usefulness, even to a
government bent on conquering the world, of diverting staggering
resources toward nuclear proliferation when you already have enough
bombs to blow up the entire planet, and every single war and covert
action since 1945 has been fought with other technologies.
The US civil rights movement is one of the most important
episodes in the pacifist history. Across the world, people see it as
an example of nonviolent victory. But, like the other examples
discussed here, it was neither a victory nor nonviolent. The move­
ment was successful in ending de jure segregation and expand­
ing the minuscule black petty bourgeoisie, but these were not
the only demands of the majority of movement participants."
They wanted full political and economic equality, and many also
wanted black liberation in the form of black nationalism, black
intercommunalism, or some other independence from white im-
I 10 I
NONVIOLENCEISINffffCTIVE
perialism. None of these demands were met-not equality, and
certainly not liberation.
People of color still have lower average incomes, poorer access
to housing and health care, and poorer health than white people.
De facto segregation still exists.V Political equality is also lack­
ing. Millions of voters, most of them black, are disenfranchised
(from voting for white candidates in a white political system that
reflects a white culture) when it is convenient to ruling interests,
and only four black senators have served since Reconstruction."
Other races have also been missed by the mythical fruits of civil
rights. Latino and Asian immigrants are especially vulnerable to
abuse, deportation, denial of social services they pay taxes for, and
toxic and backbreaking labor in sweatshops or as migrant agri­
cultural laborers. Muslims and Arabs are taking the brunt of the
post-September 11 repression, while a society that has anointed
itself "color-blind" evinces nary a twinge of hypocrisy. Native
peoples are kept so low on the socioeconomic ladder as to remain
invisible, except for the occasional symbolic manifestation of US
multiculturalism-the stereotyped sporting mascot or hula-girl doll
that obscures the reality of actual indigenous people.
The common projection (primarily by white progressives,
pacifists, educators, historians, and government officials) is that
the movement against racial oppression in the United States was
primarily nonviolent. On the conrrary, though pacifist groups such
as Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Con­
ferenCe (SCLC) had considerable power and influence, popular
support within the movement, especially among poor black people,
)
increasingly gravitated toward militant revolutionary groups such as
the Black Panther Parry,"According to a 1970 Harris poll, 66 per­
cent of African Americans said the activities of the Black Panther
Party gave them pride, and 43 percent said the party represented
their own views." In fact, militant srruggle had long been a part
of black people's resistance to white supremacy. Mumia Abu-Jamal
boldly documents this history in his 2004 book, We Want Freedom.
I 11 I
1
PEIl:RGI'LDERLOOS
He writes, "The roots of armed resistance run deep in African
American history. Only those who ignore this fact see the Black
Panther Party as somehow foreign to our common historical inheri­
tance.T' In reality, the nonviolent segments cannot be distilled and
separated from the revolutionary parts of the movement (though
alienation and bad blood, encouraged by the state, often existed
between them). Pacifist, middle-class black activists, including King,
got much of their power from the specter of black resistance and the
presence of armed black revolutionaries."
In the spring of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birmingham
campaign was looking like it would be a repeat of the dismally
failed action in Albany, Georgia (where a 9 month civil disobe­
dience campaign in 1961 demonstrated the powerlessness of
nonviolent protestors against a government with seemingly bot­
tomless jails, and where, on July 24, 1962, rioting youth took
over whole blocks for a night and forced the police to retreat
from the ghetto, demonstrating that a year after the nonviolent
campaign, black people in Albany still struggled against racism,
but they had lost their preference for nonviolence). Then, on
May 7 in Birmingham, after continued police violence, three
thousand black people began fighting back, pelting the police
with rocks and bottles. Just two days later, Birmingham-up
until then an inflexible bastion of segregation-agreed to de­
segregate downtown stores, and President Kennedy backed the
agreement with federal guarantees. The next day, after local
white supremacists bombed a black home and a black business,
thousands of black people rioted again, seizing a 9 block area,
destroying police cars, injuring several cops (including the chief
inspector), and burning white businesses. A month and a day
later, President Kennedy was calling for Congress to pass the
Civil Rights Act, ending several years of a strategy to stall the
civil rights movement." Perhaps the largest of the limited, if not
hollow, victories of the civil rights movement came when black
people demonstrated they would not remain peaceful forever.
I 12 I
NONVIOLENCE IS1NEffECI1VE
Faced with the two alternatives, the white power structure chose
to negotiate with the pacifists, and we have seen the results.
The claim that the US peace movement ended the war against
Vietnam contains the usual set of flaws. The criticism has been
well made by Ward Churchill and others," so I'll only summarize
it. With unforgivable self-righteousness, peace activists ignore that
three to five million Indochinese died in the fight against the US
military; tens of thousands of US troops were killed and hundreds
of thousands wounded; other troops demoralized by all the blood­
shed had become highly ineffective and rebellious." and the US
was losing political capital (and going fiscally bankrupt) to a point
where pro-war politicians began calling for a strategic withdrawal
(especially after the Tet Offensive proved the war to be "unwinna­
ble," in the words of many at the time). The US government was
not forced to pull out by peaceful protests; it was defeated politi­
cally and militarily. As evidence of this, Churchill cites the victory
of Republican Richard Nixon, and the lack of even an anti-war
nominee within the Democratic Party, in 1968, near the height
of the anti-war movement. One could also add Nixon's reelection
in 1972, after four years of escalation and genocide, to demon­
strate the powerlessness of the peace movement in "speaking truth
to power." In fact, the principled peace movement dissolved in
tandem with the withdrawal of US troops (completed in 1973).
The movement was less responsive to history's largest-ever bomb­
ing campaign, targeting civilians, which intensified after troop
withdrawal, or the continued occupation of South Vietnam by
a US-trained and -financed military dictatorship. In other words,
the movement retired (and rewarded Nixon with reelection) once
Americans, and not Vietnamese, were out of harm's way. The US
peace movement failed to bring peace. US imperialism continued
unabated, and though its chosen military strategy was defeated
by the Vietnamese, the US still accomplished its overall policy
objectives in due time, precisely because of the failure of the peace
movement to make any domestic changes.
I 13 I
rEID GELDtRLOOS
Some pacifists will point out the huge number of "conscien­
tious objectors" who refused to fight, to salvage some semblance
of a nonviolent victory. But it should be obvious that the prolifera­
tion of objectors and draft dodgers cannot redeem pacifist tactics.
Especially in such a militaristic society, the likelihood of soldiers'
refusing to fight is proportional to their expectations of facing. a
violent opposition that might kill or maim them. Without the vio­
lent resistance of the Vietnamese, there would have been no need
for a draft; without a draft, the self-serving nonviolent resistance
in North America would hardly have existed. Far more significant
than passive conscientious objectors were the growing rebellions,
especially by black, Latino, and indigenous troops, within the
military. The US government's intentional plan, in response to
black urban riots, of taking unemployed young black men off the
streets and into the military, backfired."
Washington officials visiting Army bases were freaked out at
the development of "Black militant" culture....Astonished
brass would watch as local settler [white] officers would be
forced to return salutes to New Afrikans [black soldiers) giv­
ing them the "Power" sign [raised fist]....Nixon had to get the
troops out of Vietnam fast or risk losing his army.11
Fragging, sabotage, refusal to fight, rioting in the stockades,
and aiding the enemy, all activities of US soldiers, contributed
significantly to the US government's decision to pull out ground
troops. As Colonel Robert D. Heinl stated in June 1971,
Byevery conceivable indicator, our army that remains in Viet­
nam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units
avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers
and non-commissioned officers, drug-ridden and dispirited
where not near mutinous. Elsewhere than Vietnam the situa­
tion is nearly as serious.f
The Pentagon estimated that 3 percent of officers and non­
coms killed in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972were killed in fraggings
by their own troops. This estimate doesn't even take into account
I 14 I
NONVIOLENCE ISINEffECTIVE
killings by stabbing or shooting. In many instances, soldiers in a
unit pooled their money to raise a bounty for the killing of an
unpopular officer. Matthew Rinaldi identifies "working class
blacks and Latinos" in the military, who did not identify with
the "pacifism-at-any-price tactics" of the civil rights movement that
had come before them, as major actors in the militant resistance
that crippled the US military during the Vietnam War.
14
Arid though they were less politically significant than resistance
in the military in general, bombings and other acts of violence in
protest of the war on white college campuses, including most of
the elite universities, should not be ignored in favor of the pacifist
whitewash. In the 1969-1970school year (September through May),
a conservative estimate counts 174 anti-war bombings on campuses
and at least 70 off-campus bombings and other violent attacks tar­
geting ROTC buildings, government buildings, and corporate of­
fices. Additionally, 230 campus protests included physical violence,
and 410 included damage to property.P
In conclusion, what was a very limited victory-the withdrawal
of ground troops after many years of warfare-can be most clearly
attributed to two factors: the successful and sustained violent resis­
tance of the Vietnamese, which caused US policy-makers to realize
they could not win; and the militant and often lethal resistance
of the US ground troops themselves, which was caused by demor­
alization from the effective violence of their enemy and political
militancy spreading from the contemporaneous black liberation
movement. The domestic anti-war movement clearly worried US
policv-makers." but it had certainly not become powerful enough
that we can say it "forced" the government to do anything, and, in
any case, its most forceful elements used violent protests, bomb­
ings, and property destruction.
Perhaps confused by their own false history of the peace move­
ment during the Vietnam War, US pacifist organizers in the 21
0r
century seemed to expect a repeat of the victory that never hap­
pened in their plans to stop the invasion of Iraq. On February 15,
I 15 I
PETER GELDERLOOS
2003, as the US government moved toward war with Iraq, "week­
end protests worldwide by millions of anti-war activists delivered a
stinging rebuke to Washington and its allies....The unprecedented
wave of demonstrations...further clouded US war plans," accord­
ing to an article on the website of the nonviolent anti-war group
United for Peace and justice." The article, which exults in the "mas­
sive display of pacifist feeling," goes on to project that the "White
House...appears to have been rattled by the surge in resistance to
its calls for quick military action." The protests were the largest
in history; excepting a few minor scuffles, they were entirely non­
violent; and organizers extensively celebrated their massiveness and
peacefulness. Some groups, like United for Peace and Justice, even
suggested the protests might avert war. Of course, they were totally
wrong, and the protests totally ineffective. The invasion occurred as
\
If<'
planned, despite the millions of people nominally, peacefully, and
powerlessly opposed to it. The anti-war movement did nothing to
change the power relationships in the United States. Bush received
substantial political capital for invading Iraq, and was not faced
with a backlash until the war and occupation effort began to show
~ signs of failure due to the effective armed resistance of the Iraqi people.
The so-called opposition did not even manifest within the official
political landscape. The one anti-war candidate in the Democratic
Partv." Dennis Kucinich, was never for a moment taken seriously as
a contender, and he and his supporters eventually fled their moral
high ground to defer to the Democratic Party platform's support for
the occupation of Iraq.
A good case study regarding the efficacy of nonviolent protest
can be seen in Spain's involvement with the US-led occupation.
Spain, with 1,300 troops, was one of the larger junior partners in
the "Coalition of the Willing." More than onemillion Spaniards pro­
tested the invasion, and 80 percent of the Spanish population was
opposed to it,29 but their commitment to peace ended there-they
did nothing to actually prevent Spanish military support for the
invasion and occupation. Because they remained passive and did
I 16 I
NONVIOl£NCEISINEfFECTIVE
nothing to disempower the leadership, they remained as power­
less as the citizens of any democracy. Not only was Spanish prime
minister Aznar able and allowed to go to war, he was expected by
all forecasts to win reelection-until the bombings. On March 11,
2004, just days before the voting booths opened, multiple bombs
planted by an Al-Qaida-linked cell exploded in Madrid train sta­
tions, killing 191 people and injuring thousands more. Directly
because of this, Aznar and his party lost in the polls, and the Social­
ists, the major party with an anti-war platform, were elected into
power.'? The US-led coalition shrunk with the loss of 1,300Spanish
troops, and promptly shrunk again after the Dominican Republic
and Honduras also pulled out their troops. Whereas millions of
peaceful activists voting in the streets like good sheep have not
weakened the brutal occupation in any measurable way, a fewdozen
terrorists willing to slaughter noncombatants were able to cause the
withdrawal of more than a thousand occupation troops.
The actions and statements of cells affiliated with AI Qaida
do not suggest that they want a meaningful peace in Iraq, nor
do they demonstrate a concern for the well-being of the Iraqi
people (a great many of whom they have blown to bits) so much
as a concern for a particular vision of how Iraqi society should
be organized, a vision that is extremely authoritarian, patriarchal,
and fundamentalist. And, no doubt, what was possibly an easy
decision to kill and maim hundreds of unarmed people, however
strategically necessary such an action may have seemed, is con­
nected to their authoritarianism and brutality, and most of all
to the culture of intellectualism from which most terrorists come
(although that is another topic entirely).
The morality of the situation becomes more complicated
when compared to the massive US bombing campaign that inten­
tionally killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Germany and
Japan during World War II. Whereas this campaign was much
more brutal than the Madrid bombings, it is generally considered
acceptable. The discrepancy that we may entertain between con-
I 17 I
PETER Gl'lJ)!'RLOOS
demning the Madrid bombers (easy) and condemning the even
more bloody-handed American pilots (not so easy, perhaps be­
cause among them we may find our own relatives-my grandfather,
for example) should make us question whether our condemna­
tion of terrorism really has anything to do with a respect for life.
Because we are not fighting for an authoritarian world, or one.in
which blood is spilled in accordance with calculated rationales,
the Madrid bombings do not present an example for action, but,
rather, an important paradox. Do people who stick to peaceful
tactics that have not proved effective in ending the war against
Iraq really care more for human life than the Madrid terrorists?
After all, many more than 191 Iraqi civilians have been killed for
every 1,300 occupation troops stationed there. If anyone has to
die (and the US invasion makes this tragedy inevitable), Spanish
citizens bear more blame than Iraqis (just as German and Japanese
citizens bore more blame than other victims of World War II). So
far, no alternatives to terrorism have been developed within the
relatively vulnerable belly of the beast to substantially weaken the
occupation. Hence, the only real resistance is occurring in Iraq,
where the US and its allies are most prepared to meet it, at great
cost to the lives of guerrillas and noncombatants.
So much for the victories of pacifism.
It would also help to understand the extent of the idea's
failures. A controversial but necessary example is that of the
Holocaust." For much of "the devouring," militant resistance was
all but absent, so we can measure the efficacy of pacifist resistance
alone. The Holocaust is also one of the few phenomena where victim­
blaming is correctly seen as support or sympathy for the oppressor,
so the occasional oppositional uprisings cannot be used to justify
the repression and genocide, as happens elsewhere when pacifists
blame authoritarian violence on the audacity of the oppressed to take
militant direct action against that authority. Some pacifists have been
so bold as to use examples of resistance to the Nazis, such as civil
disobedience carried out by the Danes, to suggest that nonviolent re-
I 18 I
NONVlOLf.NCE ISlNfffECTIVE
sistance can work even in the worst conditiona" Is it really necessary
to point out that the Danes, as Aryans faced a somewhat different set
of consequences for resistance than the Nazis' primary victims? The
Holocaust was only ended by the concerted, overwhelming violence
of the Allied governments that destroyed the Nazi state (though, to be
honest, they cared far more about redrawing the map of Europe than
about saving the lives of Roma, Jews, gays, leftists, Soviet prisoners
of war, and others; the Soviets tended to "purge" rescued prisoners
of war, fearing that even if they were not guilty of desertion for sur­
rendering, their contact with foreigners in the concentration camps
had contaminated them ideologically).
The victims of the Holocaust, however, were not entirely pas­
sive. A large number of them took action to save lives and sabo­
tage the Nazi death machine. Yehuda Bauer, who deals exclusively
with Jewish victims of the Holocaust, emphatically documents
this resistance. Up until 1942, "rabbis and other leaders...coun­
seled against taking up arms," but they did not counsel passivity;
rather, "resistance was nonviolent."33 Clearly, it did not slow down
the genocide or weaken the Nazis in any measurable way. Begin­
ning in 1942, Jews began to resist violently, though there are still
many examples of nonviolent resistance. In 1943, people in Den­
mark helped most of the country's seven thousand Jews escape
to neutral Sweden. Similarly, in the same year, the government,
Church, and people of Bulgaria stopped the deportation of Jews
from that country." In both of these cases, the rescued Jews were
ultimately protected by military force and kept safe by the borders
of a country not under direct German occupation at a time when
the war was starting to look bleak for the Nazis. (Because of the
violent onslaught of the Soviets, the Nazis temporarily overlooked
the minor thwarting of their plans by Sweden and Bulgaria.) In
1941, the inhabitants of a ghetto in Vilnius, Lithuania, conducted
a massive sit-down when the Nazis and local authorities prepared
to deport them." This act of civil disobedience may have delayed
the deportation a short while, but it failed to save any lives.
I 19 I
PETER GELDERLOOS
A number of leaders of the [udenrat, the Jewish Councils es­
tablished by the Nazis to govern the ghettos in compliance with
Nazi orders, accommodated the Nazis in an attempt not to rock
the boat, in the hope that as many Jews as possible would still be
alive at the end of the war. (This is an apt example because many
pacifists in the US today also believe that if you are rocking the
boat or causing conflict, you are doing something wrong.") Bauer
writes, "In the end, the strategy failed, and those who had tried to
use it discovered with horror that they had become accomplices in
the Nazis' murder plan."37 Other Jewish Council members were
bolder, and openly refused to cooperate with the Nazis. In Lvov,
Poland, the first council chairman refused to cooperate, and he
was duly killed and replaced. As Bauer points out, the replace­
ments were much more compliant (though even obedience didn't
save them, as they were all bound for the death camps; in the spe­
cific example of Lvov, the obedient replacement was killed anyway
just on suspicion of resistance). In Borszczow, Poland, the council
chairman refused to comply with Nazi orders, and he was shipped
off to the Belzec death camp."
Other council members used a diversity of tactics, and they
were clearly more effective. In Kovno, Lithuania, they pretended
to comply with Nazi orders, but were secretly a part of the resis­
tance. They successfully hid children about to be deported and
smuggled young men and women out of the ghetto so they could
fight with the partisans. In France, "both sections [of the council]
belonged to the underground and were in constant touch with
the resisters ...and contributed significantly to the saving of most
of the Jews in the counrry"? Even where they did not personally
take part in violent resistance, they multiplied their effectiveness
immensely by supporting those who did.
And then there were the urban guerrillas and partisans who
fought violently against the Nazis. In April and May 1943, Jews
in the Warsaw ghetto rose up with smuggled, stolen, and home­
made weapons. Seven hundred young men and women fought for
I 20 I
NONVIOLENCE ISINEFFECTIVE
weeks, to the death, tying up thousands of Nazi troops and other
resources needed on the collapsing Eastern Front. They knew they
would be killed whether they were peaceful or not. By rebelling
violently, they lived the last few weeks of their lives in freedom
and resistance, and slowed down the Nazi war machine. Another
armed rebellion broke out in the ghetto of Bialystok, Poland, on
August 16, 1943,and continued for weeks.
Urban guerrillas such as a group composed of Jewish Zionists
and Communists in Krakow, successfully blew up supply trains
and railroads, sabotaged war factories, and assassinated govern­
ment officials.'? Jewish and other partisan groups throughout
Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic coun­
tries also carried out acts of sabotage on German supply lines and
fought off SS troops. According to Bauer, "In eastern Poland,
Lithuania, and the western Soviet Union, at least 15,000 Jewish
partisans fought in the woods, and at least 5,000 unarmed Jews
lived there, protected all or some of the time by the fighters.?"
In Poland, a group of partisans led by the Belsky brothers saved
more than 1,200 Jewish men, women, and children, in part by
carrying out revenge killings against those who captured or turned
in fugitives. Similar partisan groups in France and Belgium sabo­
taged war infrastructure, assassinated Nazi officials, and helped
people escape the death camps. A band of Jewish Communists
in Belgium derailed a train that was taking people to Auschwitz,
and helped several hundred of them to escape.f During a rebel­
lion at the Sobibor death camps in October 1943, resisters killed
several Nazi officers and allowed four hundred of the six hundred
inmates to escape. Most of these were quickly killed, but about
sixty survived to join the partisans. Two days after the revolt, So­
bibor was closed down. A rebellion at Treblinka in August 1943
destroyed that death camp, and it was not rebuilt. Participants in
another insurrection at Auschwitz in October 1944destroyed one
of the crematoria." All of these violent uprisings slowed down
the Holocaust. In comparison, nonviolent tactics (and, for that
I 21 I
~
PETER GEillERLOOS
matter, the Allied governments whose bombers could easily have
reached Auschwitz and other camps) failed to shut down or destroy
a single extermination camp before the end of the war.
In the Holocaust, and less extreme examples from India
to Birmingham, nonviolence failed to sufficiently empower its
practitioners, whereas the use of a diversity of tactics got results.
Put simply, if a movement is not a threat, it cannot change a system
based on centralized coercion and violence," and if that movement
does not realize and exercise the power that makes it a threat, it
cannot destroy such a system. In the world today, governments and
corporations hold a near-total monopoly on power, a major aspect
ofwhich isviolence. Unless we change the power relationships (and,
preferably, destroy the infrastructure and culture of centralized pow­
er to make impossible the subjugation of the many to the few), those
who currently benefit from the ubiquitous structural violence, who
control the militaries, banks, bureaucracies, and corporations, will
continue to call the shots. The elite cannot be persuaded by appeals
to their conscience. Individuals who do change their minds and
find a better morality will be fired, impeached, replaced, recalled,
assassinated.
Time and again, people struggling not for some token reform
but for complete liberation-the reclamation of control over our
own lives and the power to negotiate our own relationships with
the people and world around us-will find that nonviolence does
not work, that we face a self-perpetuating power structure that is
I immune to appeals to conscience and sttong enough to plow over
V the disobedient and uncooperative. We must reclaim histories
of resistance to understand why we have failed in the past and
how exactly we achieved the limited successes we did. We must
also accept that all social sttuggles, except those carried out by a
completely pacified and thus ineffective people, include a diversity
of tactics. Realizing that nonviolence has never actually produced
historical victories toward revolutionary goals opens the door to
considering other serious faults of nonviolence.
I 22 I
2
I do not mean to exchange insults,
and I use the epithet racist only after
careful consideration. Nonviolence is
an inherently privileged position in
the modern context. Besides the fact
that the typical pacifist is quite clearly
white and middle class, pacifism as an
ideology comes from a privileged con­
text. It ignores that violence is already
here; that violence is an unavoidable,
structurally integral part of the current
NONVIOLENCE IS
social hierarchy; and that it is people
of color who are most affected by that
R A CIS T
violence. Pacifism assumes that white
people who grew up in the suburbs with all their basic needs met
can counsel oppressed people, many of whom are people of color,
to suffer patiently under an inconceivably greater violence, until
such time as the Great White Father is swayed by the movement's
demands or the pacifists achieve that legendary "critical mass."
People of color in the internal colonies of the US cannot
defend themselves against police brutality or expropriate the
means of survival to free themselves from economic servitude.
They must wait for enough people of color who have attained
more economic privilege (the "house slaves" of Malcolm X's
analysis') and conscientious white people to gather together and
hold hands and sing songs. Then, they believe, change will surely
come. People in Latin America must suffer patiently, like true
martyrs, while white activists in the US "bear witness" and write
to Congress. People in Iraq must not fight back. Only if they
remain civilians will their deaths be counted and mourned by
white peace activists who will, one of these days, muster a protest
large enough to stop the war. Indigenous people need to wait
just a little longer (say, another 500 years) under the shadow of
genocide, slowly dying off on marginal lands, until-well, they're
I 23 I
PETER GElDrRLOOS
not a priority right now, so perhaps they need to organize a
demonstration or two to win the attention and sympathy of the
powerful. Or maybe they could go on strike, engage in Gandhian
noncooperation? But wait-a majority of them are already unem­
ployed, noncooperating, fully excluded from the functioning of
the system.
Nonviolence declares that the American Indians could
have fought off Columbus, George Washington, and all the
other genocidal butchers with sit-ins; that Crazy Horse, by us­
ing violent resistance, became part of the cycle of violence, and
was "as bad as" Custer. Nonviolence declares that Africans could
. have stopped the slave trade with hunger strikes and petitions,
/
!
I
and that those who mutinied were as bad as their captors; that
mutiny, a form of violence, led to more violence, and, thus, resis­
tance led to more enslavement. Nonviolence refuses to recognize
~ /
that it can only work for privileged people, who have a status
(!j" protected by violence, as the perpetrators and beneficiaries of a
\ violent hierarchy.
Pacifists must know, at least subconsciously, that nonviolence
is an absurdly privileged position, so they make frequent usage of
race by taking activists of color out of their contexts and selectively
using them as spokespersons for nonviolence. Gandhi and Martin
Luther King Jr. are turned into representatives for all people of
color. Nelson Mandela was too, until it dawned on white paci­
fists that Mandela used nonviolence selectively, and that he ac­
tually was involved in liberation activities such as bombings and
preparation for armed uprising. Z Even Gandhi and King agreed
it was necessary to support armed liberation movements (citing
as examples those in Palestine and Vietnam, respectively) where
there was no nonviolent alternative, clearly prioritizing goals over
particular tactics. But the mostly white pacifists of today erase this
part of the history and re-create nonviolence to fit their comfort
level, even while "claiming the mantle" of Martin Luther King Jr.
and Gandhi.' One gets the impression that if Martin Luther King
I 24 I
NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST
Jr. were to come in disguise to one of these pacifist vigils, he would
not be allowed to speak. As he pointed out:
Apart from bigots and backlashers, it seems to be a malady
even among those whites who like to regard themselves as
"enlightened." I would especially refer to those who counsel,
"Wait!" and to those who say that they sympathize with our
goals but cannot condone our methods of direct-action in
pursuit of those goals. I wonder at men who dare to feel that
they have some paternalistic right to set the timetable for an­
other man's liberation.
Over the past several years, I must say, I have been gravely
disappointed with such white "moderates." I am often in­
clined to think that they are more of a stumbling block to the
Negro's progress than the White Citizen's Counciler [sic) or
the Ku Klux Klanner."
And it must be added that privileged white people were instru­
mental in appointing activists such as Gandhi and King to positions
of leadership on a national scale. Among white activists and, not co­
incidentally, the white-supremacist ruling class, the civil rights-era
March on Washington is associated first and foremost with Martin
Luther King Jr.'s "1 Have a Dream" speech. Mostly absent from the
white consciousness, but at least as influential to black people, was
Malcolm X's perspective, as articulated in his speech criticizing the
march's leadership.
It was the grassroots out there in the street. It scared the
white man to death, scared the white power structure in
Washington, DC, to death; I was there. When they found
out this black steamroller was going to come down on the
capital, they called in...these national Negro leaders that you
respect and told them, "Call it off." Kennedy said, "Look, you
all are letting this thing go too far." And Old Tom said, "Boss,
I can't stop it because I didn't start it." I'm telling you what
they said. They said, "I'm not even in it, much less at the head
of it." They said, "These Negroes are doing things on their
I 25 I
PETP.R GflDERLOOS
own. They're running ahead of us." And that old shrewd fox,
he said, "If you all aren't in it, I'll put you in it. I'll put you at
the head of it. I'll endorse it. I'll welcome it....
This is what they did at the march on Washington. They
joined it...became part of it, took it over. And as they took it
over, it lost its militancy. It ceased to be angry, it ceased to be
hot, it ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to
be a march. It became a picnic, a circus. Nothing but a circus,
with clowns and all....
No, it was a sellout. It was a takeover....They controlled it so
tight, they told those Negroes what time to hit town, where to
stop, what signs to carry, what song to sing, what speech they
could make, and what speech they couldn't make, and then
told them to get out of town by sundown.'
The end result of the march was to invest significant movement
resources, at a critical time, in an ultimately pacifying event. In the
words of Bayard Rustin, one of the chief organizers of the march,
"You start to organize a mass march by making an ugly assumption.
You assume that everyone who is coming has the mentality of a
three-vear-old.:" Demonstrators received premade protest signs with
government-approved slogans; the speeches of several protest lead­
ers, including SNCC chairman John Lewis, were censored to take
out threats of armed struggle and criticisms of the government's
civil rights bill; and, just as Malcolm X described, at the end, the
whole crowd was told to leave as soon as possible.
Though he enjoys comparatively little attention in mainstream
histories, Malcolm X was extremely influential on the black libera­
tion movement, and he was recognized as such by the movement
itself and by government forces charged with destroying the move­
ment. In an internal memo, the FBI addresses the need to prevent
the rise of a black "messiah" as part of its Counter Intelligence Pro­
\ gram. According to the FBI, it is Malcolm X who "might have been
1such a 'messiah;' he is the martyr of the movement today."7 The fact
I 26 I
NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST
that Malcolm X was singled out by the FBI as a major threat raises
the possibility of state involvement with his assassination." certainly
other nonpacifist black activists, who were identified by the FBI as
particularly effective organizers, were targeted for elimination by
means including assassination." Meanwhile, Martin Luther King
Jr. was allowed his celebrity and influence until he became more
radical, spoke of anti-capitalist revolution, and advocated solidarity
with the armed struggle of the Vietnamese.
In effect, white activists, particularly those interested in mini­
mizing the role of militant and armed struggle, assist the state
in assassinating Malcolm X (and similar revolutionaries). They
perform the cleaner half of the job, in disappearing his memory
and erasing him from history.'? And despite their absurdly dispro­
portionate professions of devotion to him (there were, after all,
a few other people who took part in the civil rights movement),
they similarly help assassinate Martin Luther King [r., though in
his case a more Orwellian method (assassinate, reformulate, and
co-opt) is used. Darren Parker, a black activist and consultant to
grassroots groups whose criticisms have contributed to my own
understanding of nonviolence, writes,
The number of times people quote King is one of the most
off-putting things for most black folk because they know how
much his life was focused on the race struggle...and when you
actually read King, you tend to wonder why the parts critical
of white people, which are the majority of the things he said
and wrote, never get quoted."
Thus King's more disturbing (to white people) criticism of rac­
ism is avoided," and his cliched prescriptions for feel-good, non­
violent activism are repeated ad nauseum, allowing white pacifists
to cash in on an authoritative cultural resource to confirm their
nonviolent activism and prevent the acknowledgement of the rac­
ism inherent in their position by associating themselves with a
noncontroversial black figurehead.
I 27 I
NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST
PETER Gill)ERLOOS
Pacifists' revising of history to remove examples of militant
struggles against white supremacy cannot be divorced from a rac­
ism that is inherent in the pacifist position. It is impossible to
claim support for, much less solidarity with, people of color in
their struggles when unavoidably significant groups such as the
Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, the Brown
Berets, and the Vietcong are actively ignored in favor of a homoge­
neous picture of anti-racist struggle that acknowledges only those
segments that do not contradict the relatively comfortable vision
of revolution preferred mostly by white radicals. Claims of support
and solidarity become even more pretentious when white pacifists
draft rules of acceptable tactics and impose them across the move­
ment, in denial of the importance of race, class background, and
other contextual factors.
The point is not that white activists, in order to be anti-racist,
need to uncritically support any Asian, Latino, indigenous, or black
resistance group that pops up. However, there is a Eurocentric uni­
versalism in the idea that we are all part of the same homogeneous
struggle and white people at the heart of the Empire can tell people
of color and people in the (neo)colonies the best way to resist. The
people most affected by a system of oppression should be at the
forefront of the struggle against that particular oppression," yet
pacifism again and again produces organizations and movements
of white people illuminating the path and leading the way to save
brown people, because the imperative of nonviolence overrides
the basic respect of trusting people to liberate themselves. When­
ever white pacifists concern themselves with a cause that affects
people of color, and resisters among the affected people of color
do not conform to the particular definition of nonviolence in use,
the white activists place themselves as the teachers and guides,
creating a dynamic that is remarkably colonial. Of course, this is
largely a function of whiteness (a socially constructed worldview
taught diffusively to all people identified by society as "white").
Militant white activists can and do incur similar problems when
I 28 I
they disrespect allies of color by dictating the appropriate, ortho­
dox method of struggle.
The Weather Underground and other militant white groups
of the 1960s and 70s did a horrible job of extending solidarity
to the black liberation movement, voicing support but withhold­
ing any material aid, in part because they viewed themselves as a
vanguard and the black groups as ideological competitors. Other
white organizations, such as the Liberation Support Movement,
used their support to exercise control over the anti-colonial lib­
eration movements they claimed to be acting in solidarity with,"
much the way a government aid agency operates.
Interestingly, even among militant white activists, racism encour­
ages passivity. One of the problems of the Weather Underground
is that they were claiming to fight alongside black and Viet­
namese people, but this was just posturing-they conducted
harmless, symbolic bombings and disdained actions likely to
put their own lives at risk. Today, their veterans are not dead
or imprisoned (excepting three victims of an early explosives­
making accident and those who left Weather to fight along­
side members of the Black Liberation Army); they are living
comfortably as academics and professionals.!' Militant white
anarchists in North America today exhibit similar tendencies.
Many of the most vocal disdain ongoing liberation struggles,
denouncing them as "not anarchist," rather than supporting
their most anti-authoritarian elements. The result is that these
hard-core (and, at the same time, armchair) anarchists can find
no real (and dangerous) resistance worthy of their support, so
they stick to militant postures and the violence of ideological
hairsplitting.
A white supremacist system punishes the resistance of people
of color more harshly than the resistance of white people. Even
white activists who have made ourselves aware of the dynamics
of racism find the resulting privilege, one of socially guaranteed
safety, difficult to relinquish. Accordingly, those who challenge
I 29 I
PETER GElDERLCXlS
white supremacy directly and militantly will seem threatening to
us. Mumia Abu-Jamal writes:
The accolades and bouquets of late-20th-century Black
struggle were awarded to veterans of the civil rights struggle
epitomized by the martyred Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Elevated by white and Black elites to the heights of social ac­
ceptance, Dr. King's message of Christian forbearance and'
his turn-the-other-cheek doctrine were calming to the white
psyche. To Americans bred for comfort, Dr. King was, above
all, safe.
The Black Panther Party was the antithesis of Dr. King.
The Party was not a civil rights group...but practiced the
human right of self-defense ....The Black Panther Party
made (white) Americans feel many things, but safe wasn't
one of them. 16
White pacifists (and even bourgeois black pacifists) are afraid
of the total abolition of the white supremacist, capitalist system.
They preach nonviolence to the people at the bottom of the racial
and economic hierarchy precisely because nonviolence is ineffec­
tive, and any revolution launched 'by those people," provided it
remains nonviolent, will be unable to fully unseat white people
and rich people from their privileged positions. Even strains of
nonviolence that seek to abolish the state aim to do so by trans­
forming it (and converting the people in power); thus, nonviolence
requires that activists attempt to influence the power structure,
which requires that they approach it, which means that privileged
people, who have better access to power, will retain control of any
movement as the gatekeepers and intermediaries who allow the
masses to "speak truth to power."
In November 2003, School of the Americas Watch (SOAW)
activists organized an anti-oppression discussion during their an­
nual pacifist vigil outside Fort Benning Army Base (which houses
the School of the Americas, a military-training school prominently
I 30 I
NONVIOilNCE ISRACIST
connected to human-rights abuses in Latin America). The orga­
nizers of the discussion had a difficult time getting the white,
middle-class participants (by far the dominant demographic at the
explicitly nonviolent vigil) to focus on oppressive dynamics (such
as racism, classism, sexism,. and transphobia) within the organiza­
tion and among activists associated with SOAW's anti-militarist
efforts. Instead, people at the discussion, particularly older, white,
self-proclaimed pacifists, kept returning to forms of oppression
practiced by some external force-the police keeping an eye on the
vigil, or the military subjugating people in Latin America. It was
quite apparent that self-criticism (and -improvemenr) was an unde­
sirable option; the preferable alternative was to focus on the faults
of a violent other, emphasizing their own victimization by (and,
hence, moral superiority to) the forces of state power. Eventually,
a number of veteran activists of color who attended the discussion
were able to move attention to the many forms of racism within
the anti-SOA milieu that prevented it from attracting more sup­
port from nonprivileged populations. Perhaps their major criti­
cism, in pointing out the racism they witnessed, was against the
organization's practice of pacifism. They spoke against the white
pacifists' privileged, comfortable take on activism, 'and lambasted
the casual, entertaining, celebratory attitude of the protest, with
its pretensions of being revolutionary, even of being a protest.
One black woman was particularly incensed at an experience
she had had while taking a bus down to the Fort Benning vigil
with other anti-SOA activists. During a conversation with a white
activist, she stated that she did not support the practice of non­
violence. That activist then told her she was "on the wrong bus"
and did not belong at the protest. When I related this story and
the other criticisms made by people of color during the discus­
sion to a listserv of SOAW-affiliated former prisoners (after serv­
ing a fully voluntary, six-month-maximum prison sentence, they
gave themselves the honorific title "prisoner of conscience"), one
white peace activist wrote back to me that she was surprised that
I 31 I
PETER Gff.DERLOOS
a black woman would be ideologically opposed to nonviolence, in
spite of Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy of the civil rights
movernent.f
Beneath their frequent and manipulative usage of people of
color as figureheads and tame spokespersons, pacifists follow a
tactical and ideological framework formulated almost exclusively
by white theorists. Whereas revolutionary activists are hard-pressed
to find white theorists with anything relevant to say regarding the
methods of militant struggle, the teachers of pacifism are primarily
white (for example; David Dellinger, the Berrigans, George Lakey,
Gene Sharp, Dorothy Day, and AJ Muste). An article espousing
nonviolence published, appropriately enough, in The Nation, drops
Gandhi's name like a banner but primarily quotes white activists
and scholars to articulate a more precise strategy." Another article
on nonviolence, recommended by a pacifist anti-SOA activist to
nonpacifist activists who doubted pacifism's strategic depth, relies
solely on white sources." A book popular among US pacifists
states that "America has more often been the teacher than the
student of the nonviolent ideal."20
Pacifists would also do well to examine the color of violence.
When we mention riots, whom do we envision? White activists
committing property destruction as a form of civil disobedience
may stretch, but do not usually lose, the protective covering of
"nonviolence." People of color engaged in politically motivated
property destruction, unless strictly within the rubric of a white
activist-organized protest, are banished to the realm of violence,
denied consideration as activists, not portrayed as conscientious.
The racism of the judicial system, a major and violent compo­
nent of our society, though one rarely prioritized for opposition by
pacifists, has had a major impact on the American psyche. Violence
and criminality are nearly interchangeable concepts (consider how
comfortable pacifists are in using the terminology of statist mo­
rality-for example, "justice"-as their own), and a chief purpose
of both concepts is to establish blame. Just as criminals deserve
I 32 I
NONVIOLENCE ISRACrsr
repression and punishment, people who use violence deserve
the inevitable karmic violent consequences; this is integral to the
pacifist position. They may deny believing that anyone deserves to
have violence used against them, but a stock argument common
among pacifists is that revolutionaries should not use violence
because the state will then use this to "justify" violent repression.
Well, to whom is this violent repression justified, and why aren't
those who claim to be against violence trying to uri-justify it? Why
do nonviolent activists seek to change society's morality in how it
views oppression or war, but accept the morality of repression as
natural and untouchable?
This idea of the inevitable repressive consequences of militancy
frequently goes beyond hypocrisy to outright victim-blaming and
approval of repressive violence. People of color who are oppressed
with police and structural violence every day are counseled against
responding with violence because that would justify the state
violence already mobilized against them. Victim-blaming was a
key part of pacifist discourse, strategy even, in the 1960s and 70s,
when many white activists helped justify state actions and neutral­
ize what could have become anti-government outrage at violent
state repression of black and other liberation movements, such
as the police assassinations of Panther organizers Fred Hampton
and Mark Clark. Rather than supporting and aiding the Panthers,
white pacifists found it more fashionable to state that they had
"provoked violence" and "brought this on themselves.V'
More recently, at the previously mentioned anarchist confer­
ence, I charged that the US anti-war movement deserved to share
the blame in the deaths of three million Vietnamese for being so
accommodating to state power. A pacifist, anarchist, and Chris­
tian Peacemaker responded to my charge by stating that the blame
belonged with (I expected him to say the US military alone, but
nol) Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese leadership for practicing
armed struggle." (Either this pacifist considers the Vietnamese
people unable to have made the highly popular step toward vio-
I 33 I
, "
£[«-
,r
v :
PEm GaDERLOOS
lent resistance themselves, or he blames them as well.) One gets
the impression that if more Gypsies, Jews, gays, and others had
violently resisted the Holocaust, pacifists would find it convenient
to blame that little phenomenon on the absence of an exclusively
pacifist opposition as well.
By preaching nonviolence, and abandoning to state repression
those who do not listen obediently, white activists who think they
are concerned about racism are actually enacting a paternalistic re­
lationship and fulfilling the useful role of pacifying the oppressed.
The pacification, through nonviolence, of people of color intersects
with the preference of white supremacist power structures to disarm
the oppressed. The celebrated civil rights leaders, including King,
were instrumental to the government's "bullet and ballot" strategy
in isolating and destroying militant black activists and manipulat­
ing the remainder to support a weakened, pro-government agenda
centered around voter registration. In fact, the NAACP and the
Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) got paid by the
government for their services." (And the Student Non-Violent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was largely dependent on
the donations of wealthy liberal benefactors, which it lost when
it adopted a more militant stance, a factor that contributed to its
collapse.)"
A century earlier, one of the major activities of the Ku Klux Klan
in the years following the Civil War was to disarm the entire black
population of the South, stealing any weapons they could find from
newly "freed" black people, often with the assistance of the police.
In fact, the Klan acted largely as a paramilitary force for the state in
times of unrest, and both the Klan and modem US police forces have
roots in the antebellum slave patrols, which regularly terrorized black
people as a form of control, in what might be described as the original
policy of racial profiling.
2s
Today, with the security of the racial hierar­
chy assured, the Klan has fallen into the background, the police retain
their weapons, and pacifists who think themselves allies urge black
people not to re-arm themselves, ostracizing those who do.
I 34 I
NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST
A generation after the failure of the civil rights movement,
black resistance gave birth to hip-hop, which mainstream cultural
forces such as the recording mdilstry, clothing manufacturers,
and for-profit media (that is, white-owned businesses) capitalize
and purchase. These capitalist cultural forces, which have been
protected by the disarming of black people and enriched by their
evolving slavery, wax pacifist and decry the prevalence of lyrics
about shooting (back at) cops. Hip-hop artists bonded to the
major record labels largely abandon the glorification of anti-state
violence and replace it with an increase in the more fashionable
violence against women. The appearance of nonviolence, in the
case of black people not arming themselves or advocating struggle
against police, is, in fact, a reflection of the triumph of a previous
violence.
The massive interpersonal violence of the Klan created a
material shift that is maintained by systematized and less visible
police violence. At the same time, the cultural power of white
elites, itself gained and preserved through all sorts of economic
and government violence, is used to co-opt black culture to foster
a celebration of some of the same ideological constructs that justi­
fied kidnapping, enslaving, and lynching black people in the first
place, while channeling the anger from generations of abuse into
cycles of violence within black communities, rather than allowing
it to foment violence against the all-too-deserving authorities. In
the power dynamic described in this brief historical sketch, and
in so many other histories of racial oppression, people who insist
on nonviolence among the oppressed, if they are to have any role,
end up doing the work of the white supremacist power structure
whether they mean to or not.
Robert Williams provided an alternative to this legacy of dis­
armament. Sadly, his story is left out of the dominant narrative
found in state-sanctioned school textbooks, and, if proponents of
nonviolence have anything to say about it, is also excluded from
the movement's self-narrative and understanding of its own his-
I 35 I
PETER GEillERLOOS
tory. Beginning in 1957, Robert Williams armed the NAACP
chapter in Monroe, North Carolina, to repel attacks from the Ku
Klux Klan and the police. Williams influenced the formation of
other armed self-defense groups, including the Deacons for De­
fense and Justice, which grew to include fifty chapters throughout
the South that protected black communities and civil rights work­
ers. 26 It is exactly these stories of empowerment that white pacifists
ignore or blot out.
Nonviolence in the hands of white people has been and
continues to be a colonial enterprise. White elites instruct the
natives in how to run their economies and governments, while
white dissidents instruct the natives in how to run their resistance.
On April 20, 2006, a co-founder of Food Not Bombs (FNB), the
majority-white anti-authoritarian group which serves free food
in public places through one hundred chapters (mostly in North
America, Australia, and Europe), sent out a call for support for
the new FNB chapter in Nigeria.
This March Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry
and local Nigerian volunteer Yinka Dada visited the people
suffering in the shadow of Nigeria's oil refineries. While
conditions in the region are terrible, bombs are not a
good way to improve conditions. The crisis in Nigeria has
contributed to oil prices hitting a record $72 a barrel. It's
understandable that people are frustrated that the profits of
their resources are enriching foreign companies while their
environment is polluted and they live in poverty. Food Not
Bombs is offering a nonviolent solution."
The Food Not Bombs call for support condemned the actions
of the rebel militia, MEND, which is seeking autonomy for the
Ijaw people of the Niger Delta and an end to the destructive oil
industry (whereas FNB "welcomed Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo's announcement of new jobs in the Delta Region"
from oil revenues). MEND had kidnapped several foreign (US
and European) oil-company employees to demand an end to
I 36 I
NONVIOlENCEISRACIST
government repression and corporate exploitation (the hostages
were released unharmed). Curiously, while they condemned the
kidnapping, Food Not Bombs failed to mention the bombing, by the
Nigerian military under President Obasanjo, of several Ijaw vil­
lages believed to support MEND. And while there is no evidence
that the "nonviolent solution" they say they are "offering" will do
anything to free Nigerians from the exploitation and oppression
they suffer, if nonviolence were implemented among Nigerians
that would surely avert the government's "crisis" and bring oil
prices back down, which, I suppose, makes things more peaceful
in North America.
Faced with the total repression of the white supremacist system,
the obvious uselessness of the political process, and the shameless
efforts of a dissident elite to exploit and control the rage of the
oppressed, it should be no surprise or controversy at all that "the \
colonized man finds his freedom in and through violence," to use
the words of Frantz Fanon, the doctor from Martinique who au- \.r .
thored one of the most important works on the struggle against co­
lonialisrn" Most white people have enough privilege and latitude
that we may mistake these generously long, velvet-padded chains
for freedom, so we comfortably agitate within the parameters of
democratic society (the borders of which are composed of violently
enforced racial, economic, sexual, and governmental structures).
Some of us are further mistaken in assuming that all people face
these same circumstances, and expect people of color to exercise
privileges they don't actually have. But beyond the strategic neces­
sity of attacking the state with all means available to us, have those
of us not faced with daily police intimidation, degradation, and
subordination considered the uplifting effect of forcefully fighting
back! Frantz Fanon writes, about the psychology of colonialism and
of violence in pursuit of liberation, "At the level of indivi vio­
lence [as a part of liberation struggle .is,a-deansingforce. It frees
the native-frorn histnfenority comvkx...andiromhi.sgespair and
inaction; it fearless ;;ci' "29
I 37 I
v
PETER GELDI'RLOOS
But proponents of nonviolence who come from privileged
backgrounds, with material and psychological comforts guaran­
teed and protected by a violent order, do not grow up with an in­
feriority complex violently pounded into them. The arrogance of
pacifists' assumption that they can dictate which forms of struggle
are moral and effective to people who live in far different, far more
violent circumstances is astounding. Suburban white peoplewho
lecture children of the [enin refugee camp or the Colombian kill­
ing fields on resistance bear a striking similarity to, say, World
Bank economists who dictate "good" agricultural practices to
Indian farmers who have inherited centuries-old agricultural tradi­
tions. And the benign relationship of privileged people to global
systems of the sincer­
it¥..,of privileged people, in,this case white people, who espouse
nonviolence. To quote Darren Parker again, "The appearance, at
least, of a nonviolent spirit is much easier to attain when one is
not the direct recipient of the injustice and may in fact simply rep­
resent psychological distance. After all, it's much easier to 'Love
thy enemy' when they are not actually your enemy."30
Yes, people of color, poor people. and people from the Global
South have advocated nonviolence (though typically such pacifists
come from more privileged strata of their communities); however,
only through a highly active sense of superiority can white activists
judge and condemn oppressed people who do not do so. True,
regardless of privilege, we should be able to trust our own analysis,
but when that analysis rests on a dubious moral high ground and a
conveniently selective interpretation of what constitutes violence,
chances are our self-criticism has fallen asleep on the job. When
we understand that privileged people derive material benefits
from the exploitation of oppressed people, and that this means we
benefit from the violence used to keep them down, we cannot sin­
cerely condemn them for violently rebelling against the structural
violence that privileges us. (Those who have ever condemned the
violent resistance of people who have grown up in more oppres-
I 38 I
NONVIOl£NCEISRACIST
sive circumstances than themselves should think about this the
next time they eat a banana or drink a cup of coffee.)
I hope it is well understood that the government uses more
violent forms of repression against people of color in resistance
than against white people. When Oglala traditionals and the
American Indian Movement stood up on Pine Ridge Reserva­
tion in the 1970s to assert a little independence and to organize
against the endemic bullying of the imposed "tribal govern­
ment," the Pentagon, FBI, US Marshals, and Bureau of Indian
Affairs instituted a full-fledged counterinsurgency program
that resulted in daily violence and dozens of deaths. Accord­
ing to Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, "The principle of
armed self-defense had, for the dissidents, become a necessity of
survival. "31
The only proponents of nonviolence I have ever heard reject
even the legitimacy of self-defense have been white, and though
they may hold up their Oscar Romeros, they and their families
have not personally had their survival threatened as a result of
their activism." I have a hard time believing that their aversion to
violence has as much to do with principles as with privilege and
ignorance. And beyond mere self-defense, whether individuals
have faced the possibility of having to fight back to survive or to
improve their lives depends largely on the color of their skin and
their place in various national and global hierarchies of oppres­
sion. It is these experiences that nonviolence ignores by treating
violence as a moral issue or a chosen thing.
The culturally sensitive alternative within pacifism is that
privileged activists allow, or even support, militant resistance in
the Global South, and possibly in the internal colonies of the
Euro/American states, and only advocate nonviolence to people
with a similarly privileged background. This formulation presents
a new racism, suggesting that the fighting and dying be carried
out by people of color in the more overtly oppressive states of
the Global South, while privileged citizens of the imperial centers
I 39 I
PETl'R Gfl.DERLOOS
may be contented with more contextually appropriate forms of
resistance such as protest rallies and sit-ins.
An anti-racist analysis, on the other hand, requires white
people to recognize that the violence against which people of color
must defend themselves originates in the white "First World."
Thus, appropriate resistance to a regime that wages war against
colonized people across the globe is to bring the war home; to
build an anti-authoritarian, cooperative, and anti-racist culture
among white people; to attack institutions of imperialism; and to
extend support to oppressed people in resistance without under­
mining the sovereignty of their struggle. However, nonabsolutist
pacifists who allow for a little cultural relativism are typically less
likely to support armed revolution when the fighting gets close to
home. The thinking is that Palestinians, for example, may engage
in militant struggle because they live under a violent regime, but
for the brutalized residents of the nearest urban ghetto to form
guerrilla units would be "inappropriate" or "irresponsible." This is
the "not in my backyard" tendency, which is fueled by the recogni­
tion that a revolution there would be exciting, but a revolution here
would deprive privileged activists of our comfort. Also present is
the latent fear of racial uprising, which is assuaged only when it is
subordinated to a nonviolent ethic. Black people marching is pho­
togenic. Black people with guns evokes the violent crime reports
on the nightly news. American Indians holding a press conference
is laudable. American Indians ready, willing, and able to take their
land back is a trifle disturbing. Thus, white peoples' support for,
and familiarity with, revolutionaries of color on the home front is
limited to inert martyrs-the dead and the imprisoned.
The contradiction in ostensibly revolutionary pacifism is that
revolution is never safe, but to the vast majority of its practitioners
and advocates, pacifism is about staying safe, not getting hurt, not
alienating anyone, not giving anyone a bitter pill to swallow. In
making the connection between pacifism and the self-preservation
of privileged activists, Ward Churchill quotes a pacifist organizer
I 40 I
NONVIOUNCE ISRACIST
during the Vietnam era who denounced the revolutionary tactics
of the Black Panther Party and Weather Underground because
those tactics were "a really dangerous thing for all of us...they run
the very real risk of bringing the same sort of violent repression [as
seen in the police assassination of Fred Hampton] down on all of
us.")) Or, to quote David Gilbert, who is serving an effective life
sentence for his actions as a member of the Weather Underground
who went on to support the Black Liberation Army, "Whites had
something to protect. It was comfortable to be at the peak of a
morally prestigious movement for change while Black people were
taking the main casualties for the struggle."34
The pacifist desire for safety continues today. In 2003, a non­
violent activist reassured a Seattle newspaper about the character
of planned protests. "I'm not saying that we would not support
civil disobedience," Woldt said. "That has been part of the peace
movement that church people have engaged in, but we are not into
property damage or anything that creates negative consequences
for US."35
And on a listserv for a radical environmental campaign in
2004, a law student and activist, after inviting an open discus­
sion of tactics, advocated an end to the mention of nonpacifist
tactics and demanded a sttict adherence to nonviolence on the
grounds that nonpacifist groups "get annihilated."36 Another ac­
tivist (and, incidentally, one of the other law students on the list)
agreed, adding, "I think that having a discussion about violent
tactics on this list is playing with fire, and it is putting everyone
at risk." She was also concerned that "two of us will be facing
the star chamber of the ethics committee of the Bar Association
sometime in the near future."37
Of course, proponents of militancy must understand that
there is a great need for caution when we discuss tactics, especially
via e-mail, and that we face the hurdle of building support for
actions that are more likely to get us harassed or imprisoned, even
if all we do is discuss them. However, in this example, the two
I 41 I
PEmGflDERLOOS
law students were not saying that the group should discuss only
legal tactics or hypothetical tactics, they were saying that the group
should discuss only nonviolent tactics. Since it had been billed as
a discussion to help the group create ideological common ground,
this was a manipulative way of using threats of government repres­
sion to prevent the group from even considering anything other
than an explicitly nonviolent philosophy.
Because of the weighty self-interest of white people in prevent­
ing revolutionary uprisings in their own backyard, there has been
a long history of betrayal by white pacifists who have condemned
and abandoned revolutionary groups to state violence. Rather
than "putting themselves in harm's way" to protect members of
the black, brown, and red liberation movements (a protection
their privilege might have adequately conferred because of how
costly it would have been for the government to murder afflu­
ent white people in the midst of all the dissension spurred by
heavy losses in Vietnam), conscientious pacifists ignored the
brutalization, imprisonment, and assassination of Black Panthers,
American Indian Movement activists, and others. Worse still, they
encouraged the state repression and claimed that the revolutionar­
ies deserved it by engaging in militant resistance. (Nowadays, they
are claiming that the liberationists' ultimate defeat, which pacifists
facilitated, is proof of the ineffectiveness of liberationists' tactics.)
Revered pacifist David Dellinger admits that "one of the factors
that induces serious revolutionaries and discouraged ghetto-dwell­
ers to conclude that nonviolence is incapable of being developed
into a method adequate to their needs is this very tendency of
pacifists to line up, in moments of conflict, with the status quO."38
David Gilbert concludes that "failure to develop solidarity with
the Black and other liberation struggles within the US (Native
American, Chicano/Mexican, Puerto Rican) is one of the several
factors that caused our movement to fall apart in the mid-70s."39
Mumia Abu-Jamal questions, were white radicals "really ready to
embark on a revolution, one that did not prize whiteness?"40
I 42 I
NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST
At first, nonviolence seems like a clear moral position that has
little to do with race. This view is based on the simplistic assump­
tion that violence is first and foremost something that we choose.
But which people in this world have the privilege to choose
violence, and which people live in violent circumstances whether
they want to or not? Generally, nonviolence is a privileged prac­
tice, one that comes out of the experiences of white people, and
it does not always make sense for people without white privilege
or for white people attempting to destroy the system of privilege
and oppression.
Many people of color have also used nonviolence, which in
certain circumstances has been an effective way to stay safe in the
face of violent discrimination, while seeking limited reforms that
do not ultimately change the distribution of power in society. The
use of nonviolence by people of color has generally been a com­
promise to a white power structure. Recognizing that the white
power structure prefers the oppressed to be nonviolent, some
people have chosen to use nonviolent tactics to forestall extreme
repression, massacres, or even genocide. Movements of people of
color peacefully pursuing revolutionary goals have tended to use
a form of nonviolence that is less absolute, and more confronta­
tional and dangerous, than the kind of nonviolence preserved in
North America today. And even then, the practice of nonviolence
is often subsidized by whites in power," used by white dissidents
or government officials to manipulate the movement for their
comfort, and usually abandoned by large portions of the grass­
roots in favor of more militant tactics. The use of nonviolence to
preserve white privilege, within the movement or society at large,
is still common today.
On inspection, nonviolence proves to be tangled up with
dynamics of race and power. Race is essential to our experience
of oppression and of resistance. A long standing component of
racism has been the assumption that Europeans, or European set­
tlers on other continents, have known what is best for people they
I 43 I
1
PEITR GELDERLOOS
considered "less civilized." People fighting against racism must
unmistakably end this tradition and recognize that the impera­
tive for each community to be able to determine its own form of
resistance based on its own experiences leaves any priority given
to pacifism in the dust. Furthermore, the fact that much of the
violence faced by people of color around the world originates in
the power structure that privileges white people should lend white
people greater urgency in pushing the boundaries for the level of
militancy that is considered acceptable in white communities. In
other words, for those of us who are white, it becomes our duty
to build our own militant culture of resistance, and, contrary to
the role of teacher historically self-appointed to white people, we
have a great deal to learn from the struggles of people of color.
White radicals must educate other white people about why people
of color are justified in rebelling violently and why we too should
use a diversity of tactics to free ourselves, struggle in solidarity with
all who have rejected their place as the lackeys or slaves of the elite,
and end these global systems of oppression and exploitation.
I 44 I
Put quite plainly, nonviolence en- \

bureaucracies
that protect capitalism; preserve a
white supremacist, patriarchal order;
and implement imperialist expan- !
3
sion-survive by assuming the role of
the sole legitimate purveyor of violent
force within their territory. Any strug­
gle against oppression necessitates
a conflict with the state. Pacifists do
NONVIOLENCE IS the state's work by pacifying the op­
position in advance.' States, for their
STATIST
part, discourage militancy within the
opposition, and encourage passivity.
Some pacifists obscure this mutual relationship by claiming
that the government would just love to see them abandon their
nonviolent discipline and give in to violence, that the government
even encourages violence from dissidents, and that many activists
urging militancy are, in fact, government provocateurs.' Thus, they
argue, it is the militant activists who are playing into the hands
of the state. Although in some instances the US government has
used infiltrators to encourage resistance groups to hoard weapons
or plan violent actions (for example, in the cases of the Molly
Maguires and Jonathan Jackson's attempted courthouse strike"),
a critical distinction must be made. The government only encour­
ages violence when it is sure that the violence can be contained
and will not get out of hand. In the end, causing a militant resis­
tance group to act prematurely or walk into a trap eliminates the
group's potential for violence by guaranteeing an easy life sentence
or allowing authorities to sidestep the judicial process and kill off
the radicals more quickly, On the whole, and in nearly all other
instances, the authorities pacify the population and discourage
violent rebellion.
I 45 I
PETER GEillERLOOS
There is a clear reason for this. Contrary to the fatuous claims
of pacifists that they somehow empower themselves by cutting out
the greater part of their tactical options, governments everywhere
recognize that unconstrained revolutionary activism poses the
greater threat of changing the distribution of power in society.
Though the state always reserves the right to repress whomever
it wishes, modern "democratic" governments treat nonviolent so­
cial movements with revolutionary goals as potential, rather than
actual, threats. They spy on such movements to stay aware of de­
velopments, and they use a carrot-and-stick approach to herd such
movements into fully peaceful, legal, and ineffective channels.
Nonviolent groups may be subjected to beatings, but such groups
are not targeted for elimination (except by regressive governments
or governments facing a period of emergency that threatens their
stability).
I
On the other hand, the state treats militant groups (those same
groups pacifists deem ineffective) as actual threats and attempts
to neutralize them with highly developed counterinsurgency and
domestic warfare operations. Hundreds of union organizers,
anarchists, communists, and militant farmers were killed in the
anti-capitalist struggles of the late 19
th
and early 20
th
centuries.
During the last generation's liberation struggles, FBI-supported
paramilitaries killed sixty American Indian Movement (AIM) ac­
tivists and supporters on the Pine Ridge Reservation alone, and
the FBI, local police, and paid agents killed dozens of members
of the Black Panther Party, Republic of New Afrika, the Black
Liberation Army, and other groups."
Vast resources were mobilized toward infiltrating and destroy­
ing militant revolutionary organizations during the COINTELPRO
\
era. Any hint of militant organizing by c o l o n ~
I
peoples, Puerto Ricans, and others within US territorial purview
still incurs violent repression. Prior to September 11, the FBI had
named the saboteurs and arsonists of the Earth Liberation Front
(ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) as the greatest domestic
I 46 I
NONVlOLfNCE ISSTATIST
terrorism threats, even though these two groups had killed exactly
zero people. Even since the bombings of the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon, the ELF and ALF have remained priorities
for government repression, as seen in the arrests of over a dozen
alleged ELF/ALF members; the agreement of many of these pris­
oners to become snitches after one of them died in a suspicious
suicide and all of them had been threatened with life sentences;
and the incarceration of several members of an above-ground
animal rights group for hounding a vivisection company with an
aggressive boycott-which the government has termed "animal
enterprise terrorism."! And at a time when the Left was shocked
that the police and military were spying on peace groups, far less
attention was given to the government's continuing repression of
the Puerto Rican liberation movement, including the FBI assas­
sination of Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios."
But we need not infer the opinions and priorities of the state's
security apparatus from the actions of its agents. We can take their
word for it. FBI COINTELPRO documents, revealed to the pub­
lic only because in 1971 some activists broke into an FBI office
in Pennsylvania and stole them, clearly demonstrate that a major
objective of the FBI is to keep would-be revolutionaries passive. In
a list of five goals with regard to black nationalist and black libera­
tion groups, in the 1960s, the FBI includes the following:
Prevent violence on the part of black nationalist groups. This is
of primary importance, and is, of course, a goal of our investiga­
tive activity; it should also be a goal of the Counterintelligence
Program [in the original government lingo, that phrase refers to
a specificoperation, of which there were thousands, and not the
overarching program). Through counterintelligence it should
be possible to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize
them before they exercisetheir potential for violence."
In identifying successful "neutralizations" in other documents,
the FBI uses the term to include activists who were assassinated,
imprisoned, framed, discredited, or harassed until they ceased to
I 47 I
I
PElERGfLmRLOOS
! '
be politically active. The memo also lists the importance of pre­
venting the rise ofa black "messiah." After smugly noting that
c', Malcolm X could have fulfilled this role, but is instead the martyr
/ of the movement, the memo names three black leaders who have
/ the potential to be that messiah. One of the three "could be
a very real contender for this position should he abandon his
'-, supposed 'obedience' to 'white, liberal doctrines' (nonviolence)"
[parenthesis in the original]. The memo also explains the need
"
',I
I, / to go about discrediting militant blacks in the eyes of the "re­
, sponsible Negro community" and the "white community." This

shows both how the state can count on knee-jerk pacifist con­

demnation of violence and how pacifists effectively do the state's
<;
work by failing to use their cultural influence to make militant
e,.;
resistance to tyranny "respectable." Instead, pacifists claim that
,
\.f..
.
-,
;
,
militancy alienates people, and do nothing to attempt to coun­
\

teract this phenomenon.
Another FBI memo, this one on American Indian Movement
activist John Trudell, shows the same understanding on the part
of the state's political police that pacifists are an inert sort of
dissident that do not yet pose a threat to the established order.
"TRUDELL has the ability to meet with a group of pacifists and in
a short time have them yelling and screaming 'right-on!' In short,
he is an extremely effective agitator."8
The government consistently demonstrates the unsurprising
fact that it prefers to go up against a peaceful opposition. Much
more recently, an FBI memo sent to locallaw-enforcement agen­
cies across the country, and subsequently leaked to the press,
makes it clear whom the government identifies as extremists and
prioritizes for neutralization.
On October 25, 2003, mass marches and rallies against the
occupation in Iraq are scheduled to occur in Washington,
DC, and San Francisco, California....[Tjhe possibility exists
that elements of the activist community may attempt to en­
gage in violent, destructive, or disruptive acts....
I 48 I
NONVIOUNCE ISSTATIST
Traditional demonstration tactics by which protestors
draw attention to their causes include marches, banners,
and forms of passive resistance such as sit-ins [emphasis
mine]. Extremist elements may engage in more aggressive
tactics that can include vandalism, physical harassment of
delegates, trespassing, the formation of human chains or
shields, makeshift barricades, devices used against mounted
police units, and the use of weapons-such as projectiles and
homemade bombs." k-,-'--""""""
The bulk of the memo focuses on these
clearly identified as activists employing a as
opposed to pacifist activists, who are not id;;:rtified as a major
threat. According to the memo, extremists exhibit the following
identifying characteristics.
Extremists may be prepared to defend themselves against law
enforcement officials during the course of a demonstration.
Masks (gas masks, goggles, scarves, scuba masks, filter masks,
and sunglasses) can serve to minimize the effects of tear gas
and pepper spray, as well as obscure one's identity. Extremists
may also employ shields (trash can lids, sheets of plexiglass,
truck tire inner tubes, etc.) and body protection equipment
(layered clothing, hard hats and helmets, sporting equipment,
life jackets, etc.) to protect themselves during marches. Activ­
ists may also use intimidation techniques such as videotaping
and the swarming of police officers to hinder the arrest of
other demonstrators.
After demonstrations, activists are usually reluctant to coop­
erate with law enforcement officials. They seldom carry any
identification papers and often refuse to divulge any informa­
tion about themselves or other protestors....
Law enforcement officials should be alert to these possible
indicators of protest activity and report any potentially illegal
acts to the nearest FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force."
I 49 I
PETER GflDERlOOS
How sad is it that the surest mark of an "extremist" is a willing­
ness to defend oneself against attacks by the police, and how much
responsibility do pacifists bear in creating this situation? In any case,
by disowning and even denouncing activists who use a diversity of
tactics, pacifists make such extremists vulnerable to the repression
that police agencies clearly want to use against them.
As if it were not enough to discourage militancy and condition
dissidents to use nonviolence through violent repression of the
t unruly, the government also injects pacifism into rebel movements
j more directly. Two years after invading Iraq, the US military got
caught interfering once again in the Iraqi news media (prior inter­
ference included bombing unfriendly media, releasing false stories,
and creating entirely new Arab-language media organizations such
as al-Hurriyah that would be run by the Defense Department as
a part of their psychological operations). This time, the Pentagon
was paying to insert articles in Iraqi newspapers urging unity
(against the insurgents) and nonviolence." The articles were writ­
ten as though the authors were Iraqi in an attempt to rein in the
militant resistance and manipulate Iraqis into diplomatic forms of
opposition that would be easier to co-opt and control.
The Pentagon's selective use of pacifism in Iraq can serve
as a parable for the broader origins of nonviolence. Namely, it
comes from the state. A conquered is schooled in
that
has claimed a righ.t to-use violence. It is the
of the ;tatist belief that the
masses must be stripped of their natural abilities for direct action,
including the propensities for self-defense and the use of force, or
they will descend into chaos, into a cycle of violence, into hurt­
ing and oppressing one another. Thus is government safety, and
slavery freedom. Only a people trained to accept being ruled by
a violent power structure can really question sorneone's right and
need to forcefully defend herself against oppression. Pacifism is
also a form of learned helplessness, through which dissidents
I 50 I
NONVIOLENCE ISSTATIST
retain the goodwill of the state by signifying that they have not
usurped powers the state exclusively claims (such as self-defense).
In this way, a pacifist behaves like a well-trained dog who is beaten
by his master: rather than bite his attacker, he lowers his tail and
signifies his harmlessness, resigning himself to the beatings in the
hope that they stop.
More immediately, Frantz Fanon describes the origins and
function of nonviolence within the decolonization process when
he writes:
The colonialist bourgeoisie] introduces that new idea which
is in proper parlance a creation of the colonial situation: non­
violence. In its simplest form this non-violence signifies to the
intellectual and economic elite of the colonized country that
the bourgeoisie has the same interests as they....Non-violence
is an attempt to settle the colonial problem around a green
baize table, before any regrettable act has been performed...be­
fore any blood has been shed. But if the masses, without wait­
ing for the chairs to be arranged around the baize table, listen
to their own voice and begin committing outrages and setting
fire to buildings, the elite and the nationalist bourgeois par­
ties will be seen rushing to the colonialists to exclaim, "This is
very serious! We do not know how it will end; we must find a
./
solution-some sort of cornpromise.v'!
This underlying comfort with the violence of the state, combined
with shock at the "outrages" of forceful rebellion, lulls pacifists into
relying on state violence for protection. For example, pacifist organiz­
ers exempt the police from the "nonviolence codes" that are common
at protests these days; they do not attempt to disarm the police who
protect peace protestors from angry, pro-war counterdernonstrators.
In practice, pacifist morality demonstrates that it is more acceptable
for radicals to rely on the violence of the government for protection
than to defend themselves.
It is fairly obvious why the authorities would want radicals
to remain vulnerable. But why do pacifists? It is not as though
I 51 I
PETER GElDERLOOS
supporters of nonviolence have had a shortage of opportunities to
learn what happens to defenseless radicals. Take for example the
1979 rally against white supremacy in Greensboro, North Carolina.
An assortment of black and white workers, labor organizers, and
Communists, accepting the premise that disarming and allowing
a police monopoly on violent force would better ensure peace,
agreed to not carry weapons for protection. The result was an
event now known as the Greensboro Massacre. The police and
FBI collaborated with the local Klan and Nazi Party to attack the
demonstrators, who were relying on police protection. While the
police were conveniently absent, the white supremacists attacked
the march and shot 13 people, killing five. When the police re­
turned to the scene, they beat and arrested several protestors and
let the racist thugs get away."
In the chaos of any revolutionary situation, right-wing para­
militaries such as the Ku Klux Klan are more than happy to elimi­
nate radicals. The American Legion recently declared "war" on
the anti-war movement." That organization's history of lynching
anarchist labor organizers suggests the means they'll use when
their beloved flag is threatened."
The debate between pacifism and a diversity of tactics (in­
cluding self-defense and counterattack) may end up being decided
if the current anti-authoritarian movement ever develops to the
point of posing a threat, when police agencies hand over their
blacklists, and right-wing paramilitaries lynch any "traitors" they
can get their hands on. This situation has occurred in the past,
most notably in the 1920s, and, to a lesser extent, in response to
the civil rights movement. Let us only hope that if our movement
once again poses a threat, as few of us as possible will be con­
strained by an ideology that leaves us dangerously vulnerable.
Despite this history of repression, proponents of nonviolence
frequently rely on the violence of the state, not just to protect
them, but also to accomplish their goals. If this reliance does not
always lead to outright disasters like the Greensboro Massacre,
I 52 I
NONVIOl£NCE ISSTATIST
it certainly cannot exonerate the nonviolent position. Pacifists
claiming to eschew violence helped to desegregate schools and
universities throughout the South, but, ultimately, it was armed
units of the National Guard that allowed the first black students
to enter these schools and protect them from forceful attempts
at expulsion and worse. If pacifists are unable to defend their
own gains, what will they do when they don't have the organized
violence of the police and National Guard? (Incidentally, would
pacifists remember desegregation as a failure for nonviolence if
black families had needed to call in the Deacons for Defense,
instead of the National Guard, to protect their children entering
those all-white schools?) Institutional desegregation was deemed
favorable to the white supremacist power structure because it de­
fused a crisis, increased possibilities for co-opting black leadership,
and streamlined the economy, all without negating the racial hi­
erarchy so fundamental to US society. Thus, the National Guard
was called in to help desegregate universities. It is not that hard
to imagine a set of revolutionary goals that the National Guard
would never be called in to protect.
While pacifists protesting US militarism can never get the
police or National Guard to simply enforce the law-disarming
weapons banned by international treaties or closing military
schools that train soldiers in torture techniques-the government
still benefits from allowing these futile demonstrations to take
place. Permitting nonviolent protest improves the image of the
state. Whether they mean to or not, nonviolent dissidents play
the role of a loyal opposition in a performance that dramatizes
dissent and creates the illusion that democratic government is not
elitist or authoritarian. Pacifists paint the state as benign by giving
authority the chance to tolerate a criticism that does not actu­
ally threaten its continued operation. A colorful, conscientious,
passive protest in front of a military base only improves the PR
image of the military, for surely only a just and humane military
would tolerate protests outside its front gate. Such a protest is like
I 53 I
PETER GflDERLOOS NONVIOl£NCEISSTATIST
a flower stuck in the barrel of a gun. It does not impede the ability
of the gun to fire.
What most pacifists do not seem to understand is that free
speech does not empower us, and it does not equal freedom.
Free speech is a privilege" that can be-and is-taken away by
the government when it serves their interests. The state has the
uncontested power to take away our "rights," and history shows
the exercise of that power regularly." Even in our daily life, we
can try to say whatever we want to bosses, judges, or police of­
ficers, and unless we are slavishly congenial, honesty and a free
tongue will lead to harmful consequences. In situations of social
emergency, the limitations on "free speech" become even more
pronounced. Consider the activists imprisoned for speaking
against the draft in World War I and the people arrested in 2004
for holding protest signs at events where Bush was speaking. Free
speech is only free as long as it is not a threat and does not come
with the possibility of challenging the system. The most freedom
of speech I have ever had was in the "Security Housing Unit"
(maximum-security solitary confinement) in federal prison. I
could yell and shout all I wanted, even cuss at the guards, and
unless I thought up a particularly creative way to intentionally
enrage them, they would leave me at peace. No matter: the walls
were rock solid and my words were hot air.
The cooperation that is only possible with peaceful dissidents
helps to humanize the politicians responsible for monstrous poli­
cies. At the massive protests against the 2004 Republican National
Convention (RNC) in New York City, NYC's Mayor Bloomberg
gave special buttons to nonviolent activists who had proclaimed
that they would be peaceful." Bloomberg got political points for
being hip and lenient, even as his administration cracked down
on dissent during the week of protests. Pacifists got an added perk:
anyone wearing the button would be given discounts at dozens of
Broadway shows, hotels, museums, and restaurants (highlighting
how the passive parade of nonviolence is tapped into as a boost to
I 54 I
the economy and bulwark of the status quo). As Mayor Bloomberg
put it, "It's no fun to protest on an empty stomach."
And the anti-RNC protests in New York were little more
than that: fun. Fun for college students, Democratic canvass­
ers, and Green Party activists to walk around holding witty signs
with like-minded "enlightened" progressives. A huge amount
of energy was expended weeks in advance (by the institutional
Left and the police) in attempts to alienate and exclude more
militant activists. Someone with a lot of resources distributed
thousands of leaflets the weekend before the convention making
the idiotic claim that violence-say, a riot-would improve Bush's
image (when, in reality, a riot, though it certainly would not
have helped the Democrats, would have tarnished Bush's image
as a leader and "uniter"), The leaflet also warned that anyone
advocating confrontational tactics was likely a police agent. The
march ended, and people dispersed to the most isolated, least
confrontational spot possible in a city full of the edifices of state
and capital: Central Park's Grand Lawn (appropriately, other
protestors flocked to the "Sheep Meadow"). They danced and
celebrated into the night, chanting such illuminating mantras as
"We are beautiful!"
Later in the week, the Poor People's March was repeatedly
attacked by police making targeted arrests of activists wearing
masks or refusing to be searched. March participants had agreed
to be nonviolent because the march included many people, such
as immigrants and people of color, whom march organizers were
ostensibly concerned about as being more vulnerable to arrest.
But when activists-peacefully-swarmed police officers to attempt
to discourage the arrests, the activists were urged to ignore the
arrests and keep moving, with march "peacekeepers" and police
shouting identical messages at the crowd ("Move along!" "Stick
to the march route!"). Obviously, all attempts at conciliation and
de-escalation failed; the police were every bit as violent as they
chose to be.
I 55 I
PETER GElDERLOOS
NONVlOLENCE ISSTATIST
The next day, Jamal Holiday, a black New York City resident
from a disadvantaged background, was arrested for the self-defense
"assault" of a plainclothes NYPD detective, one ofseveral who had,
with no provocation, driven their mopeds into the peaceful crowd
at the Poor People's March, hurting several people (and running
over my foot). This happened at the end of the rally, when, many
of the march participants, including the supposedly "vulnerable,"
were quite upset with the march leaders' passivity and the contin­
ued police brutality. At one point, a crowd of protestors who had
just been attacked by police began screaming at an organizer who
was yelling at them through a bullhorn to get away from the police
(there was nowhere to go) because they were "provoking" the cops.
The response to Holiday's arrest shows a hypocrisy that privileges
state violence over even the right of people to defend themselves.
The same pacifist segments of the movement who raised a stink
about the peaceful protestors whom police arrested en masse on
August 31 (a day reserved for civil disobedience-style protests)
remained silent toward and unsupportive of Holiday while he
endured the excruciating, drawn-out violence of the penal system.
Apparently, for the pacifists, protecting an allegedly violent activ­
ist from a far greater violence comes too near to blurring their
principled stand against violence.
Nonviolent activists go further than endorsing state violence
with their silence: they are often vocal in justifying it. Pacifist
organizers waste no opportunity to declare a ban on "violence"
within their protests, because such violence would "justify" repres­
sion by the police, which is perceived as inevitable, neutral, and
beyond reproach. The 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle are a
typical example. Though police violence (in this case, the use of
torture tactics against peaceful protestors blockading the summit
site) preceded the "violent" property destruction by the black bloc,
everyone from pacifists to the corporate media blamed the police
riot on the black bloc. Perhaps the major grievance was that decen­
tralized, non-hierarchically organized anarchists stole the spotlight
I 56 I
from big-budget NGOs that require an aura of authority to keep
receiving donations. The official claim was that the violence of the
protests demonized the entire movement, though even the presi­
dent himself, Bill Clinton, declared from Seattle that a violent
fringe minority was solely responsible for the mayhem.'? In fact,
the violence of Seattle intrigued and attracted more new people
to the movement than were attracted by the tranquility of any
subsequent mass mobilization. The corporate media did not-and
never will-explain the motives of the activists, but the violence,
the visible manifestation of passion and fury, of militant com­
mitment in an otherwise absurd world, motivated thousands to
do that research on their own. That is why Seattle is thought
of by the ahistorical as the "beginning" or "birth" of the anti­
globalization movement.
Similarly, an article advocating nonviolence in The Nation
complains that violence in Seattle and Genoa (where Italian po­
lice shot and killed a protestor) "created negative media images
and provided an excuse for even harsher repression."20 I will di­
gress for a moment here to point out that the state is not a passive
thing. If it wants to repress a movement or organization, it does
not wait for an excuse, it manufactures one. The American Indian
Movement was not a violent organization-the vast majority of its
tactics were peaceful-but members did not restrict themselves to
nonviolence; they practiced armed self-defense and forceful oc­
cupations of government buildings, often with great results. To
"justify" repression against AIM, the FBI manufactured the "Dog
Soldier Teletypes," which were passed off as AIM communiques
discussing the supposed creation of terror squads to assassinate
tourists, farmers, and government officials." These teletypes were
part of a general FBI dis information campaign instrumental in al­
lowing the consequence-free (for the government) false imprison­
ment and murder of several AIM activists and supporters. About
such campaigns, the FBI says, "It is immaterial whether facts exist
to substantiate the charge....[Djisruption [through the media] can
I 57 I
PETERGELDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISSTATIST
be accomplished without facts to back it up. »zz If, in the eyes of
the government, it is immaterial whether an organization deemed
a threat to the status quo has or has not committed a violent act,
why do proponents of nonviolence continue to insist that the
truth will set them free?
The previously mentioned Nation article demands a strict,
movement-wide adherence to nonviolence, criticizing another
pacifist organization's refusal to openly condemn activists who use
a diversity of tactics. The author laments, "It's impossible to con­
trol the actions of everyone who participates in a demonstration,
of course, but more vigorous efforts to insure [sic) nonviolence
and prevent destructive behavior are possible and necessary. A 95
percent commitment to nonviolence is not enough." No doubt, a
"more vigorous" commitment to nonviolence means that activist
leaders must more frequently utilize the police as a force for peace
{to arrest "troublemakers"}. This tactic has most certainly been ap­
plied by pacifists already. (In fact, the first time I ever got assaulted
at a protest, it was not by the police but by a peace marshal, who
tried to push me to the curb while I and several others were hold­
ing an intersection to keep the police from dividing the march
and potentially mass-arresting the smaller segment. Notably, my
resistance to the peace marshal's light attempts to push me back
visibly singled me out to the police, who were overseeing the work
of their proxies, and I had to duck back into the crowd to avoid
being arrested or assaulted more forcefully.)
Can anyone imagine revolutionary activists declaring that they
need to be more vigorous in making sure that every participant
in an event hits a cop or throws a brick through a window? On
the contrary, most anarchists and other militants have bent over
backwards in working with pacifists and ensuring that at joint
demonstrations, people opposed to confrontation, afraid of police
brutality, or especially vulnerable to legal sanctions could have a
"safe space." Pacifism goes hand in hand with efforts to centralize
and control the movement. The concept is inherently authoritar-
I 58 I
ian and incompatible with anarchism because it denies people the
right to self-determination in directing their own struggles. Z3 The
pacifist reliance on centralization and control {with a leadership
that can take "vigorous efforts" to "prevent destructive behavior"}
preserves the state within the movement, and preserves hierarchi­
cal structures to assist state negotiations {and state repression}.
History shows that if a movement does not have a leader, the
state invents one. The state violently eliminated the anti-hierarchi­
cal labor unions of the early 20
th
century, whereas it negotiated
with, elevated, and bought off the leadership of the hierarchical
unions. Colonial regimes appointed "chiefs" to stateless societ­
ies that had none, whether to impose political control in Africa
or negotiate deceptive treaties in North America. Additionally,
leaderless social movements are especially hard to repress. The
tendencies of pacifism toward negotiation and centralization fa­
cilitate efforts by the state to manipulate and co-opt rebellious
social movements; they also make it easier for the state to repress
a movement, if it decides there is a need to do so.
But the pacifist vision of social change comes from a privileged
vantage, where full state repression is not a real fear. An essay on
strategic nonviolence that came highly recommended from some
pacifist acquaintances includes a diagram. Nonviolent activists are
on the left, their opponents, presumably reactionaries, are on the
right, and undecided third parties are in the middle." All three
segments are equally arrayed around an apparently neutral "de­
cision-making" authority. This is an utterly naive and privileged
view of democratic government, in which all decisions are decided
by majority, with, at worst, a limited violence practiced only out of
recalcitrant conservatism and reluctance to change the status quo.
The diagram assumes a society without race and class hierarchy;
without privileged, powerful, and violent elites; without a corpo­
rate media controlled by the interests of state and capital, ready to
manage the perceptions of the citizenry. Such a society does not
exist among any of the industrial, capitalist democracies.
I S9 I
PETER GELDERLOOS NONVlOLENCE ISSTATIST
Within such a model of social power, revolution is a morality
play, an advocacy campaign that can be won by "the ability of
dignified suffering [for example, the anti-segregation students sit­
ting in at "whites only" lunch counters while enduring verbal and
physical attacks] to attract sympathy and political support."25 First
of all, this model assumes an analysis of the state that is remark­
ably charitable and remarkably similar to how the state might
describe itself in public-school civics textbooks. In this analysis,
government is a neutral and passive decision-making authority that
responds to public pressures. It is at best fair and at worst beset by
a culture of conservatism and ignorance. But it is not structurally
oppressive. Second, this model puts pacifists in the position of
pressuring and negotiating with a decision-making authority that,
in reality, is consciously bound by self-interest, willing to break any
inconvenient law it may have set down, and structurally integrated
with and dependent on the systems of power and oppression that
galvanized the social movement in the first place.
Modern governments, which have long studied methods of
social control, no longer view peace as the default social condi­
tion, interrupted only by outside agitators. Now they understand
that the natural condition of the world (the world they have
created, I should editorialize) is conflict: rebellion to their rule
is inevitable and continuous." Statecraft has become the art of
managing conflict, permanently. As long as rebels continue to
carry olive branches and a naive view of the struggle, the state
knows that it is safe. But the same governments whose repre­
sentatives hold polite talks with or rudely dismiss conscientious
hunger strikers also constantly spy on the resistance and train
agents in counterinsurgency-warfare techniques drawn from
wars of extermination waged to subdue rebellious colonies from
Ireland to Algeria. The state is prepared to use those methods
against us.
Even when the government stops short of exterminatory forms
of repression, dignified suffering simply stops being fun, and
I 60 I
pacifists who have not fully dedicated their futures to revolution
by declaring war on the status quo lose the clarity of conviction
(maybe they somehow did something to "deserve" or "provoke"
the repression?) and drop out. Consider the 1999 Seattle protest
and the successive mass mobilizations of the anti-globalization
movement: activists in Seattle were brutalized, but they took it
on their feet, fighting back, and many were empowered by the
experience. The same goes for the Quebec City demonstrations
against the Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA). At the other
end, police repression at the 2003 anti-FTAA protests in Miami
was wholly undeserved even by legalistic standards." Protestors
were not empowered or dignified by the one-sided violence-they
were brutalized, and many people were scared away from further
participation, including activists who were sexually assaulted by
police while locked up. In the even more passive protests in Wash­
ington, DC-the yearly demonstrations against the World Bank,
for instance-nonviolent resistance, consisting of the occasional
orchestrated lockdown, arrest, imprisonment, and release, were
not empowering so much as tedious and marked by dwindling
numbers. They were certainly not successful in winning media
attention or influencing people with the spectacle of dignified
suffering, though in every case the criteria used by the pacifist
organizers to ascertain victory was a combination of nothing more
than the numbers of participants and the absence of violent con­
frontation with authorities or property.
In the final analysis, the state can use nonviolence to defeat
even a revolutionary movement that has otherwise become power­
ful enough to succeed. In Albania in 1997, government corrup­
tion and economic collapse caused a large number of families
to lose all their savings. In response, the "Socialist Party called
a demonstration in the capital hoping to make itself the leader
of a peaceful protest movement."2B But the resistance spread far
beyond the control of any political party. People began arming
themselves; burning or bombing banks, police stations, govern-
I 61 I
PETERGElDERLOOS
?
ment buildings, and offices of the secret service; and liberating
prisons. "Much of the military deserted, either joining the insur­
gents or fleeing to Greece." The Albanian people were poised to
overthrow the system that was oppressing them, which would give
them a chance to create new social organizations for themselves.
"By mid-March, the government, including the secret police, was
forced to flee the capital." Soon after, several thousand E u ~
Union troops occupied Albania to restore central authOrity. The
opposition parties, which all along had been negotiating with the
government to find a set of conditions to induce the rebels to
disarm and convince the ruling party to step down (so they could
step up), were instrumental in allowing the occupation to pacify
the rebels, conduct elections, and reinstitute the state.
Similarly, Frantz Fanon describes opposition parties that
denounced violent rebellion in the colonies out of a desire to
control the movement. "After the first skirmishes, the official
leaders speedily dispose of' militant action, which they "label as
childishness." Then, "the revolutionary elements which subscribe
to them will rapidly be isolated. The official leaders, draped in
their years of experience, will pitilessly disown these 'adventurers
and anarchists." As Fanon explains, regarding Algeria, in particu­
lar, and anti-colonial struggles, in general, "The party machine
shows itself opposed to any innovation," and the leaders "are ter­
rified and worried by the idea that they could be swept away by
a maelstrom whose narure, force, or direction they cannot even
imagine.'?" Though these oppositional political leaders, whether
in Albania, Algeria, or elsewhere, generally do not identify as paci­
fists, it is interesting to note how they playa similar role. For their
part, genuine pacifists are more likely to accept the deceptive olive
branches of pacifying politicians than offers of solidarity from
armed revolutionaries. The standard alliance and fraternizing
between pacifists and progressive political leaders (who counsel
moderation) serve to fracrure and control revolutionary move­
ments. It is in the absence of significant pacifist penetration into
I 62 I
NONVIOlENCE ISSTATIST
popular movements that political leaders fail to control those
movements and are rejected and amputated as elitist leeches. It is
when nonviolence is tolerated by popular movements that these
movements are hamstrung.
In the end, nonviolent activists rely on the violence of the state
to protect their gains, and they do not resist the violence of the
state when it is used against militants (in fact, they often encour­
age it). They negotiate and cooperate with armed police at their
demonstrations. And, though pacifists honor their "prisoners of
conscience," in my experience, they tend to ignore the violence of
the prison system in cases where the prisoner committed an act of
violent resistance or even vandalism (not to mention an apolitical
crime). When I was serving a six-month prison sentence for an
act of civil disobedience, pacifists across the country flooded me
with support. But, on the whole, they show a lack of concern for
the instirutionalized violence encaging the 2.2 million casualties
of the government's War on Crime. It seems that the only form of
violence they consistently oppose is rebellion against the state.
The peace sign itself is the perfect metaphor for this function.
Instead of raising a fist, pacifists raise their index and middle fin­
gers to form a V. That V stands for victory and is the symbol of
patriots exulting in the peace that follows a triumphant war. In
the final analysis, the peace that pacifists defend is that of the
vanquishing army, the unopposed state that has conquered all re­
sistance and monopolized violence to such an extent that violence
need no longer be visible. It is a Pax Americana.
I 63 I
4
Patriarchy is a form of social organiza­
tion that produces what we commonly
recognize as sexism. But it goes well
beyond individual or systemic preju­
dice against women. It is, first of all,
the false division of all people into two
rigid categories (male and female) that
are asserted to be both natural and
moral. (Many perfectly healthy people
do not fit into either of these physio­
logical categories, and many non-West-
NONVIOLENCE IS ern cultures recognized-and still do,
PAT R I ARC HAL if they haven't been destroyed-more
than two sexes and genders.) Patriarchy
attempts to destroy, socially or even physically, anyone who does
not fit into one of these two categories or who rejects this "gender
binary." Patriarchy goes on to define clear roles (economic, social,
emotional, political) for men and women, and it asserts (falsely)
that these roles are natural and moral. Under patriarchy, people
who do not fit into or who reject these gender roles are neutral­
ized with violence and ostracism. They are made to seem and feel
ugly, dirty, scary, contemptible, worthless. Patriarchy is harmful to
everybody, and it is reproduced by everyone who lives within it.
True to its name, it puts men in a dominant position and women
in a submissive position. Activities and characteristics that are
traditionally associated with "power," or, at least privilege, mostly
belong to men.' Patriarchy gives both the ability and the right to
use violence almost exclusively to men.
With gender, as with race, nonviolence is an inherently privi­
leged position. Nonviolence assumes that instead of defending
ourselves against violence, we can suffer violence patiently until
enough of society can be mobilized to oppose it peacefully (or that
we can expect to "transform" any aggression that threatens us in­
dividually). Most proponents of nonviolence will present it as not
I 65 I
PETER GEJ.1)E.RLOOS
NONVIOLENCE ISPATRIARCHAL
merely a narrow polirical practice but a philosophy that deserves
to penetrate the very social fabric and root out violence in all its
manifestations. But pacifists seem not to have given the violence
of patriarchy its due consideration. After all, in wars, in social
revolutions, and in daily life, women and transgender people are
the primary recipients of violence in patriarchal society.
If we take this philosophy out of the impersonal political arena
and put it in a more real context, nonviolence implies that it is
immoral for a woman to fight off an attacker or study self-defense.
Nonviolence implies that it is better for an abused wife to move
out than to mobilize a group of women to beat up and kick out
her abusive husband.' Nonviolence implies that it is better for
someone to be raped than to pull the mechanical pencil out of
her pocket and plunge it into her assailant's jugular (because
doing so would supposedly contribute to some cycle of violence
and encourage future rapes). Pacifism simply does not resonate in
people's everyday realities, unless those people live in some extrav­
agant bubble of tranquility from which all forms of civilization's
pandemic reactive violence have been pushed out by the systemic
and less visible violence of police and military forces.
From another angle, nonviolence seems well-suited to deal­
ing with patriarchy. After all, the abolition of patriarchy in par­
ticular requires forms of resistance that emphasize healing and
reconciliation.' The Western concept of justice, based on law and
punishment, is patriarchal through and through. Early legal codes
defined women as property, and laws were written for male prop­
erty owners, who had been socialized not to deal with emotions;
"wrongs" were addressed through punishment rather than recon­
ciliation. Furthermore, patriarchy is not upheld by a powerful elite
who must be forcibly defeated, but by everyone.
Because the distribution of power within patriarchy is much
more diffused than within the state or capitalism (for example, a
male general who also sits on the advisory board of a major corpora­
tion holds significant power within the state and capitalism, but
I 66 I
does not derive much more power specifically from patriarchy than
any other male, except perhaps as a role model of manliness), fight­
ing against power holders or those most responsible plays a much
smaller role. Instead, people must build a culture that allows every­
one to self-identify in terms of gender and that supports us as we
build healthy relationships and heal from generations of violence
and trauma. This is perfectly compatible with self-defense train­
ing for women and transgender people and attacks on economic,
cultural, and political institutions that exemplify patriarchy or are
responsible for 'an especially brutal form of it. Killing a cop who
rapes homeless transgender people and prostitutes, burning down
the office of a magazine that consciously markets a beauty standard
that leads to anorexia and bulimia, kidnapping the president of a
company that conducts women-trafficking-none of these actions
prevent the building of a healthy culture. Rather, certain power­
ful people who consciously profit from patriarchy actively prevent
a healthy culture from emerging. Valuing healthy relationships is
complemented by militantly opposing institutions that propagate
exploitive and violent relationships, and striking out against the
most egregious and probably incorrigible examples of patriarchy is
one wayto educate others about the need for an alternative. Most of
the work needed to overcome patriarchy will probably be peaceful,
focused on healing and building alternatives. But a pacifist practice
that forbids the use of any other tactics leaves no option for people
who need to protect themselves from violence now.
In the case of rape and other forms of violence against
women, nonviolence implies the same lessons that patriarchy
has taught for millennia. It glorifies passivity, "turning the other
cheek," and "dignified suffering" among the oppressed. In one
of the most lucid texts defining the preservation and implemen­
tation of patriarchy-the Old Testament-story upon command­
ment upon parable upon law counsel women to suffer injustice
patiently and pray for the divine Aurhority to intervene. (This
prescription is remarkably similar to pacifists' faith in the cor-
I 67 I
NONVlOLI'NCEISPA1RIARCliAL
PETER GflDERLOOS
porate media to disseminate images of dignified suffering and
motivate the "decision-making authority" to implement justice).
Because patriarchy clearly prescribes a one-sided male violence,
women would be disrupting this power dynamic, not reinforcing
it, by relearning their propensity for violence." To reiterate, women
reclaiming the ability and right to use force would not by itself end
patriarchy, but it is a necessary condition for gender liberation,
as well as a useful form of empowerment and protection in the
short term.
Pacifists and reformist feminists have often charged that it is
militant activists who are sexist. In many specific cases, the accusa­
tion has been valid. But the criticism is frequently broadened to
suggest that the use of violent activism itself is sexist, masculine,
or otherwise privileged.' As Laina Tanglewood explains, "Some re­
cent 'feminist' critiques of anarchism have condemned militancy
as being sexist and non-inclusive to women....This idea is actually
the sexist one."6 Another anarchist points out, "In fact, the mas­
culinization of violence, with its unstated sexist concomitant, the
feminization of passivity, really owes more to the presumptions of
those whose notion of change does not include revolution or the
annihilation of the State."?
Likewise, whose notion of freedom does not include women's
being able to defend themselves? Responding to the presumption
that women can only be protected by larger social structures, activ­
ist Sue Daniels reminds us, "A woman can fight off a male attacker
by herself....It is absolutely not a question of who is physically
stronger-it is a question of training."8 "The Will to Win! Women
and Self-Defense," an anonymously authored pamphlet, adds the
following:
It is ridiculous that there are so many counseling and sup­
port organizations for women who have been raped, at­
tacked, and abused but hardly any that work to prepare and
prevent these things from happening. We must refuse to be
victims and reject the idea that we should submit to our
I 68 I
assailants to keep from arousing further violence. In reality,
submitting to our assailants will only contribute to future
violence against others."
The entire idea that violence is masculine, or that revolutionary
activism necessarily excludes women, queers, and trans people is,
like other premises of nonviolence, based on historical whitewash­
ing. Ignored are the Nigerian women occupying and sabotaging
petroleum facilities; the women martyrs of the Palestinian intifada;
the queer and transgender warriors of the Stonewall Rebellion; the
innumerable thousands of women who fought for the Vietcong;
women leaders of Native resistance to European and US genocide;
Mujeres Creando (Women Creating), a group of anarcha-feminists
in Bolivia; and British suffragettes who rioted and fought against
cops. Forgotten are the women from the rank and file to the highest
levels of leadership among the Black Panther Party, the Zapatistas,
the Weather Underground, and other militant groups. The idea
that fighting back somehow excludes women is absurd. Not even
the history of the pacified white "First World" bears it up because
even the most effective patriarchy imaginable could never prevent
all transgender people and all women from militantly fighting
against oppression.
Advocates of nonviolence who make a limited exception for self­
defense because they recognize how wrong it is to say that oppressed
people cannot or should not protect themselves have no viable strat­
egies for dealing with systemic violence. Is it self-defense to fight off
an abusive husband, but not to blow up a dioxin-emitting factory
that is making your breast milk toxic?What about a more concerted
campaign to destroy the corporation that owns the factory and is
responsible for releasing the pollutants? Is it self-defense to kill the
general who sends out the soldiers who rape women in a war zone?
Or must pacifists remain on the defensive, only fighting individual
attacks and submitting themselves to the inevitability of such at­
tacks until nonviolent tactics somehow convert the general or close
down the factory, at some uncertain point in the future?
I 69 I
NONVIOLfNCE ISPATRIARCtlAL
PETER GfIDERLOOS
Aside from protecting the patriarchy from militant opposi­
tion, nonviolence also helps preserve patriarchal dynamics
within the movement. One of the major premises of current
anti-oppression activism (born out of the joint desire to promote
healthier, more empowered movements and to avoid the infight­
ing which stemmed largely from neglected oppressive dynamics
that crippled the previous generation's liberation struggles) is that
oppressive social hierarchies exist and replicate themselves in the
behavior of all subjects and must be overcome internally as well as
externally. But pacifism thrives on avoiding self-criticism.'? Many
are familiar with the partially justified stereotype of self-con­
gratulatory, self-celebratory nonviolent activists who "embody
the change [they) wish to see in the world" 11 to such a degree that
in their minds, they embody everything right and beautiful. A
follower in one pacifist organization exclaimed, in response to
criticisms of privilege, that the group's white, male leader could
not possibly have white privilege and male privilege because he
was such a good person, as though white supremacy and patriar­
chy were entirely voluntary associations.'! In such a context, how
easily could a predominantly male leadership that is understood
to embody the nonviolent ideal as a result of their participation
in an impressive number of hunger strikes and sit-ins be called
out for oppressive behavior, transphobia, or sexual abuse?
The pacifist avoidance of self-criticism is functional, not just
typical. When your strategy's victory comes from "capturling] and
maintainling] the moral high ground,"!' it is necessary to portray
yourself as moral and your enemy as immoral. Uncovering bigot­
ries and oppressive dynamics among group leaders and members
is simply counterproductive to your chosen strategy. How many
people know that Martin Luther King]r. treated Ella Baker (who
is largely responsible for building the foundation of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference [SCLCj while King was still in­
experienced as an organizer) like his secretary; laughed in the faces
of several women in the organization when they suggested that
I 70 I
power and leadership should be shared; said that women's natural
role was motherhood, and that they, unfortunately, were "forced"
into the positions of "teacher" and "leader"." and removed Bayard
Rustin from his organization because Rustin was gay?lS But then,
why would these facts be widely available when making an icon
of King entailed covering up any such faults and portraying him
as a saint? For revolutionary activists, however, victory comes from
building power and out-strategizing the state. Such a path requires
constant assessment and self-crlricism."
It is often preexisting sexist assumptions that paint militant
groups as more sexist than they actually are. For example, women
were effectively excluded from leadership positions in King's
SCLC,17 whereas women (for example, Elaine Brown) at times
held the top positions in the Black Panther Party (BPP). Yet it
is the BPP, and not the SCLC, that is held up as the paragon of
machismo. Kathleen Cleaver rebuts, "In 1970, the Black Panther
Party took a formal position on the liberation of women. Did the
US Congress ever make any statement on the liberation of worn­
en?"IB Frankye MalikaAdams, another Panther, said, "Women ran
the BPP pretty much. I don't know how it got to be a male's party
or thought of as being a male's party."19 In resurrecting a truer
history of the Black Panther Party, Mumia Abu-jamal documents
what was, in some ways, "a woman's party."20
Nonetheless, sexism persisted among the Panthers, as it per­
sists within any revolutionary milieu, and any other segment of a
patriarchal society today. Patriarchy cannot be destroyed overnight,
but it can be gradually overcome by groups that work to destroy
it. Activists must recognize patriarchy as a primary enemy and
open spaces within revolutionary movements for women, queer
people, and transgender people to be creative forces in directing,
assessing, and reformulating the struggle (while also supporting
men's efforts to understand and counter our own socialization).
An honest evaluation shows that no matter our intentions, more
work remains to be done to free control of the movement from
I 71 I
NONVIOLENCE ISPA1RIARCtiAL
PETER GELDERLOOS
the hands of men and to find healthy, restorative ways to deal
with abusive patterns in relationships, social or romantic, among
members of the movement.
Whether militant or pacifist, nearly every tactical or strategic
discussion I have participated in was attended and dominated
overwhelmingly by men. Rather than claim that women and
transgender people are somehow unable to participate in a broad
spectrum of tactical options (or even discuss them), we would do
well to recall the voices of those who have fought-violently, defi­
antly, effectively-as revolutionaries. To that end:
Mujeres Creando is an anarcha-feminist group in Bolivia. Its
members have engaged in graffiti campaigns and anti-poverty
campaigns. They protect protestors from police violence at dem­
onstrations. In their most dramatic action, they armed themselves
with Molotov cocktails and sticks of dynamite and helped a group
of indigenous farmers take over a bank to demand forgiveness
of the debt that was starving the farmers and their families. In
an interview, Julieta Paredes, a founding member, explains the
group's origins.
Mujeres Creando is a "craziness" started by three women
[julieta Paredes, Maria Galindo, and Monica Mendoza]
from the arrogant, homophobic, and totalitarian Left of
Bolivia of the '80s ....The difference between us and those
who talk about the overthrow of capitalism is that all their
proposals for a new society come from the patriarchy of
the Left. As feminists in Mujeres Creando we want revolu­
tion, a real change of the system.... I've said it and I'll say it
again that we're not anarchists by Bakunin or the CNT, but
rather by our grandmothers, and that's a beautiful school of
anarchism."!'
Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican drag queen, talked about her par­
ticipation in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, sparked after police
raided the Stonewall Bar in New York City's Greenwich Village to
harass the queer and trans patrons.
I 72 I
We were not taking any more of this shit. We had done so
much for other movements. It was time.
It was street gay people from the Village out front-homeless
people who lived in the park in Sheridan Square outside the
bar-and then drag queens behind them and everybody be­
hind us....
I'm glad I was in the Stonewall Riot. I remember when some­
one threw a Molotov cocktail, I thought: "My god, the revolu­
tion is here. The revolution is finally here!"
I always believed that we would have a fight back. I just knew
that we would fight back. I just didn't know it would be that
night. I am proud of myself as being there that night. If I had
lost that moment, I would have been kind of hurt because
that's when I saw the world change for me and my people.
Of course, we still got a long way ahead of US.
22
Ann Hansen is a Canadian revolutionary who served seven
years in prison for her involvement in the I980s with the under­
ground groups Direct Action and the Wimmin's Fire Brigade,
which (among other actions) bombed the factory of Litton
Systems (a manufacturer of cruise-missile components) and fire­
bombed a chain of pornography shops that sold videos depicting
rapes. According to Hansen:
There are many different forms of direct action, some more
effective than others at different points in history, but in con­
junction with other forms of protest, direct action can make
the movement for change more effective by opening avenues
of resistance that are not easily co-opted or controlled by the
state. Unfortunately, people within the movement weaken
their own actions by failing to understand and support the
diverse tactics available....We have become pacified.P
Russian-born Emma Goldman-America's most famous
anarchist, participant in the attempted assassination of steel boss
I 73 I
PElr.RGELDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISPAlRJARCHAL
Henry Clay Frick in 1892, supporter of the Russian Revolution,
and one of the earliest critics of the Leninist government-writes
of women's emancipation, "History tells us that every oppressed
class gained true liberation from its masters through its own ef­
forts. It is necessary that woman learn that lesson, that she realize
that her freedom will reach as far as her power to achieve freedom
reaches. "24 .
Mollie Steimer was another Russian-American immigrant
anarchist. From a young age, Steimer worked with Frayhayt, a
Yiddish-language anarchist paper from New York. Its masthead
proclaimed: "The only just war is the social revolution." From
1918 onwards, Steimer was arrested and imprisoned repeatedly for
speaking out against the First World War or in support of the Rus­
sian Revolution, which, at that time, before the Leninist consoli­
dation and purges, had a significant anarchist component. At one
trial she declared, "To the fulfillment of this idea [anarchism], I
will devote all my energy, and, if necessary, render my life for it."25
Steimer was deported to Russia and then jailed by the Soviets for
supporting anarchist prisoners there.
Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was a Mi'kmaq woman and American
Indian Movement (AIM) activist. After teaching, counseling Native
youth, and "working with Boston's African American and Native
American communities,"26 she joined AIM and was involved in the
71-d.ay occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation
in 1973. In 1975, at the height of a period of brutal state repression
during which at least 60 AIM members and supporters were murdered
by paramilitaries equipped by the FBI, Pictou-Aquash was present at
a shoot-out in which two FBI agents were killed. In November 1975,
she was declared a fugitive for avoiding court appearances on explo­
sives charges. In February 1976, she was found dead, shot in the back
of the head; the state coroner listed the cause of death as "exposure."
After her death, it was learned that the FBI had threatened her life
for not selling out other AIM activists. During her life, Pictou-Aquash
was an outspoken activist and revolutionary.
I 74 I
These white people think this country belongs to them-they
do not realize that they are only in charge right now because
there are more of them than there are of us. The whole coun­
try changed with only a handful of raggedy-ass pilgrims that
came over here in the 1500s. It can take a handful of raggedy­
ass Indians to do the same, and I intend to be one of those
raggedy-ass Indians."27
Rote lora (Rl) was a German urban guerrilla group of anti­
imperialist feminists. Together with the allied Revolutionary
Cells, they carried out more than two hundred attacks, mostly
bombings, during the 1970s and 80s. They targeted pornogra­
phers; corporations using sweatshops; government buildings;
companies trading women as wives, sex slaves, and domestic work­
ers; drug companies; and more. In an anonymous interview, Rote
lora members explained that: "the women of Rl started in 1974
with the bombing of the Supreme Court in Karlsruhe because
we aUwanted the total abolishment of '218' (the abortion law)."28
Asked whether violence such as their bombings harms the move­
ment, the members replied:
Zora 1: To harm the movement-you talk about the installation
of repression. The actions don't harm the movement! it's the
opposite, they should and can support the movement directly.
Our attack on the women traders, for example, helped to ex­
pose their business to the public light, to threaten them, and
they now know they have to anticipate the resistance of women
if they go on with their business. These "gentlemen" know they
have to anticipate resistance. We call this a strengthening of
our movement.
lora 2: For a long time the strategy of counter-revolution has
begun to split the radical wing from the rest of the movement
by any means and isolate them to weaken the whole move­
ment. In the '70s we had the experience of what it means
when sectors of the Left adopt the propaganda of the state,
when they start to present those who struggle uncornpromis-
I 75 I
NONVIOl£NCE ISPATRIARCHAL
PETER GEillERLOOS
inglv as responsible for state persecution, destruction, and
repression. They not only confuse cause with effect, but also
justify implicitly state terror. Therefore, they weaken their
own position. They narrow the frame of their protest and
their resistance ....
The interview went on to ask the following question.
How can non-autonomous, non-radical women understand
what you want? Armed actions do have a "scare away" effect.
Zora 2: Maybe it is scary if everyday reality is questioned.
Women who get it pounded into their heads from the time
they are little girls that they are victims get insecure if they are
confronted with the fact that women are neither victims nor
peaceful. This is a provocation. Those women who experience
their powerlessness with rage can identify with our actions. As
everyact of violence against one woman creates an atmosphere
of threat against all women-our actions contribute-even if
they aim only against the individual responsible-to the devel­
opment of an atmosphere of "Resistance is possible!"29
There is, however, a great deal of feminist literature that denies
the empowering (and historically important) effects of militant
struggle on women's and other movements, offering instead a paci­
fist feminism. Pacifist feminists point to the sexism and machismo
of certain militant liberation organizations, which we should all ac­
knowledge and address. Arguing against nonviolence and in favor
of a diversity of tactics should not at all imply a satisfaction with the
strategies or cultures of past militant groups (for example, the ma­
cho posturing of the Weather Underground or the anti-feminism
of the Red Brigades).'? But taking these criticisms seriously should
not prevent us from pointing out the hypocrisy of feminists wh'a
gladly decry sexist behavior by militants but cover it up when it is
committed by pacifists-for example, relishing the tale that Gandhi
learned nonviolence from his wife without mentioning the disturb­
ingly patriarchal aspects of their relationship."
I 76 I
Some feminists go further than specific criticisms and attempt
to forge a metaphysical link between feminism and nonviolence:
this is the "feminization of passivity" mentioned earlier. In an ar­
ticle published in the Berkeley journal Peace Power, Carol Flinders
cites a study by UCLA scientists asserting that women are hormon­
ally programmed to respond to danger not with the fight-or-flight
mechanism, which is ascribed to men, but with a "tend or befriend"
mechanism. When threatened, according to these scientists, women
will "quiet the children, feed everyone, defuse the tension, and con­
nect with other females."32 This sort of pop science has long been
a favored tool to reconstitute the patriarchy by supposedly proving
the existence of natural differences between men and women, and
people are all too willing to forget basic mathematic principles in
order to surrender to such a well-ordered world. Namely, arbitrarily
dividing humanity into two sets (male and female) based on a very
limited number of characteristics will invariably produce different
averages for each set. People who do not know that an average does
not express, but obscures, the diversity within a set happily declare
these two sets to be natural categories and continue to make people
feel like they are unnatural and abnormal if they do not fall close
to the average of their set (God forbid they fall closer to the average
of the other set. Let's pause for a moment to drink a toast to the
impartiality of Science!)
But Flinders is not content to pause there, with the implicitly
transphobic and gender-essentializing" UCLA study. She goes
on to delve into "our remote, pre-human past. Among chim­
panzees, our nearest relations, males patrol the territory within
which the females and infants feed .... Females are rarely out on
those frontlines; they're more typically engaged in direct care of
their offspring." Flinders asserts that this shows "it's never been
particularly adaptive for women to engage in direct combat" and
"women tend to come at [nonviolence] from a somewhat different
direction and even live it out rather differently."?" Flinders is com­
mitting another scientific blunder, and has taken on a remarkably
I 77 I
PETER GffDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISPA1RlARCHAL
sexist tone. Firstly, the evolutionary determinism she is using is
neither scrupulous nor proven-its popularity comes from its util­
ity in creating an alibi for oppressive historical social structures.
Even within this dubious framework, Flinders is flawed in her
assumptions. Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees; rather,
both species evolved from the same predecessor. Chimpanzees are
every bit as modern as humans, and both species have had the
opportunity to evolve behavioral adaptations that diverge from
the common ancestor. We are not bound to the gender divisions
of chimps any more than they are bound to our propensity for de­
veloping immense vocabularies to obscure the truth of the world
around us. Secondly, along the same path that has brought her to
assert a female tendency toward nonviolence, Flinders has run into
the assertion that women's natural role is comforting children and
feeding everybody-away from the frontlines. Flinders has boldly,
albeit accidentally, demonstrated that the same belief system that
says women are peaceful also says women's role is to cook and
raise children. The name of that belief system is patriarchy.
Another article by a feminist academic waxes essentialist
right off the bat. In the second paragraph of "Feminism and
Nonviolence: A Relational Model," Patrizia Longo writes:
Years of research...suggest that despite the potential problems
involved, women consistently participate in nonviolent ac­
tion. However, women choose nonviolence not because they
wish to improve themselves through additional suffering, but
because the strategy fits their values and resources-"
In constraining women to nonviolence, it seems that pacifist
feminists must also constrain our definition of women's "values
and resources," thus defining which traits are essentially feminine,
locking women into a role that is falsely named natural, and shut­
ting out people who do not fit that role.
It is hard to tell how many feminists today accept the premises
of essentialism, but it seems that a large number of rank-and-file
feminists do not accept the idea that feminism and nonviolence are
I 78 I
or must be inherently linked. On one discussion board, dozens of
self-identified feminists responded to the question, Is there a link
between nonviolence and feminism? A majority of respondents,
some pacifist, many not, expressed the belief that feminists do
not need to support nonviolence. One message summed it up:
"There is still a substantial strain in feminism that links women
with nonviolence. But there are also a lot of feminists out there,
myself included, who don't want to see ourselves automatically
linked to one stance {that is, nonviolence} merely because of our
genitalia or our feminism."36
I 79 I
5
Nonviolent activists attempting to
appear strategic often avoid any real
strategizing with intrepid simplitudes
such as "Violence is the government's
strong suit. We need to follow the path
of least resistance and hit them where
they're weak."! It's high time to make
the distinction between strategizing
and sloganeering, and get a little more
sophisticated.
First, let's start with some definitions.
NONVIOLENCE IS
(The usages I will give for the following
TACTICALLY AND
terms are not universal, but as long as we
STRATEGICALLY INFERIOR h . 1 h '11 b
use t em consistent y t ey WI e more
than adequate for our purposes.) A strategy is not a goal, a slogan,
or an action. Violence is not a strategy, and neither is nonviolence.
These two terms (violence and nonviolence) ostensibly are boundaries
placed around sets of tactics. A limited set of tactics will constrain
the available options for strategies, but the tactics should always flow
from the strategy, and the strategyfrom the goal. Unfortunately, these
days, people often seem to do it in reverse, enacting tactics out of a
habitual response or marshalling tactics into a strategy without more
than a vague appreciation of the goal.
The goal is the destination. It is the condition that denotes
victory. Of course, there are proximate goals and ultimate goals. It
may be most realistic to avoid a linear approach and picture the ul­
timate goal as a horizon, the farthest imaginable destination, which
will change with time as once-distant waypoints become clear, new
goals emerge, and a static or utopian state is never reached. For
anarchists, who desire a world without coercive hierarchies, the
ultimate goal today seems to be the abolition of an interlocking
set of systems that include the state, capitalism, patriarchy, white
supremacy, and ecocidal forms of civilization. This ultimate goal
is very far away-so far away that many of us avoid thinking about
I 81 I
PE1r.R GfLDERLOOS
it because we may find we do not believe it is possible. Focusing
on the immediate realities is vital, but ignoring the destination
ensures that we will never get there.
The strategy is the path, the game plan for achieving the
goal. It is the coordinated symphony of moves that leads to the
checkmate. Would-be revolutionaries in the US, and probably
elsewhere, are most negligent when it comes to strategies. They
have a rough idea of the goal, and are intensively involved with the
tactics, but often entirely forgo the creation and implementation
of a viable strategy. In one regard, nonviolent activists typically
have a leg up on revolutionary activists, as they often have well­
developed strategies in pursuit of short-term goals. The trade-off
tends to be a total avoidance of intermediate and long-term goals,
probably because the short-term goals and strategies of pacifists
box them into dead ends that would be highly demoralizing if they
were acknowledged.
Finally, we have tactics, which are the actions or types of ac­
tions that produce results. Ideally, these results have a compound­
ed effect, building momentum or concentrating force along the
lines laid out by the strategy. Letter writing is a tactic. Throwing
a brick through a window is a tactic. It is frustrating that all the
controversy over "violence" and "nonviolence" is simply bickering
over tactics, when people have, for the most part, not even figured
out whether our goals are compatible, and whether our strategies
are complementary or counterproductive. In the face of genocide,
extinction, imprisonment, and a legacy of millennia of domina­
tion and degradation, we backstab allies or forswear participation
in the struggle over trivial matters like smashing windows or arm­
ing ourselves? It boils one's blood!
To return to our cool and reasoned analysis of these matters,
it is worth noting that goals, strategies, and tactics correlate on a
common plane, but the same thing could be viewed as a goal, a
strategy, or a tactic depending on the scope of observation. There
are multiple levels of magnitude, and the relationship among the
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NONVIOlENCE ISTACTICAllY&' SffiATEGICAllY!NFERlOR
elements of a particular chain of goal-strategy-tactics exists on each
level. A short-term goal may be a long-term tactic. Suppose that in
the next year, we want to set up a free clinic; that is our goal. We
decide on an illegalist strategy (based on the assessment that we
can force the local powers to concede some autonomy or that we
can go under their radar and occupy preexisting bubbles of auton­
omy), and the tactics we choose from might include squatting a
building, informal fundraising, and training ourselves in popular
(nonprofessional) health care. Now suppose that in our lifetime,
we want to overthrow the state. Our plan of attack might be to
build a militant popular movement that is sustained by autono­
mous institutions that people identify with and struggle to protect
from inevitable government repression. At this level, setting up
free clinics is merely a tactic, one of many actions that build power
along lines recommended by the strategy, which presumes to chart
the course for reaching the goal of liberation from the state.
Having already criticized pacifists' tendency to unify on the basis
of common tactics rather than mutual goals, I will leave aside the
liberal, pro-establishment pacifists and charitably assume a rough
similarity of goals between nonviolent and revolutionary activists.
Let's pretend that we all want complete liberation. That leaves a
difference of strategies and tactics. Clearly, the total pool of tactics
available to nonviolent activists is inferior, as they can use only about
half the options open to revolutionary activists. In terms of tactics,
nonviolence is nothing but a severe limitation of the total options.
For nonviolence to be more effective than revolutionary activism,

the difference would have to be in the strategies, in a particular ar·
rangement of tactics that achieves an unrivaled potency while avoid­
ing all of the tactics that might be characterized as "violent."
The four major types of pacifist strategy are the morality play,
the lobbying approach, the creation of alternatives, and general­
ized disobedience. The distinctions ars arbitrary, and, in specific
instances, pacifist strategies blend elements of two or more of
these types. I will show that none of these strategies confer an
I 83 I
PElr.R GElDERLOOS
advantage on nonviolent activists; in fact, all of them are weak
and shortsighted.
The morality play seeks to create change by working on
people's opinions. As such, this strategy misses the point entirely.
Depending on the specific variation-educating or occupying the
moral high ground-different tactics prove useful, though, as we
shall see, they do not lead anywhere.
One incarnation of this strategy is to educate people, to
disseminate information and propaganda, to change people's
opinions and win people's support in a campaign. This could
mean educating people about poverty and influencing them to
oppose the closing of a homeless shelter, or it could mean edu­
cating people about the oppressions of government and influ­
encing them to support anarchy. (It is important to note what
is meant by "support" in these two examples: verbal and mental
support. Education might influence people to donate money
or join a protest, but it rarely encourages people to change
their life priorities or take substantial risks.) The tactics used
for this education strategy would include holding speeches and
forums; distributing pamphlets and other informational texts;
using alternative and corporate media to focus on and spread
information about the issue; and holding protests and rallies
to capture people's attention and open space for discussion of
the issue. Most of us are familiar with these tactics, as this is
a common strategy for achieving change. We are taught that
information is the basis of democracy, and, without examining
the true meaning of that statement, we think it means we can
create change by circulating ideas supported by facts. The strat­
egy can be mildly effective in achieving very minor and fleeting
victories, but it runs into several fatal barriers that prevent seri­
ous headway in pursuit of any long-term goals.
The first barrier is elite control of a highly developed propaganda
system that can decimate any competing propaganda system nonvio­
lent activists might create. Pacifism can't even keep itself from being
I 84 I
NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &-' SlRATEGlCAllY INFERIOR
co-opted and watered down-how do pacifists expect to expand and
recruit? Nonviolence focuses on changing hearts and minds, but it un­
derestimates the culrure industry and thought control by the media.
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized
habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in
democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mech­
anism of society constirute an invisible government which is
the true ruling power of our counrry.!
The quote above, written in 1928, is from Edward Bernavs's
important book, Propaganda. Bernays was not some fringe con­
spiracy theorist; in fact, he was very much a part of the invisible
government he describes.
[Bernays's] clients included General Motors; United Fruit;
Thomas Edison; Henry Ford; the US Departments of State,
Health, and Commerce; Samuel Goldwvn, Eleanor Roosevelt;
the American Tobacco Company; and Procter & Gamble. He
directed public relations programs for every US president
from Calvin Coolidge, in 1925, to Dwight Eisenhower in the
late 1950s."3
Since then, the public relations industry that Bernays helped form
has only grown.
Whether against a local grassroots campaign or the broader
struggle for revolution, the propaganda machine can mobilize
to counter, discredit, factionalize, or drown out any ideological
threat. Consider the recent US invasion of Iraq. It should have
been a model for the success of this strategy, The information was
there-facts debunking the lies about weapons of mass destruction
and the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida were
publicly available months before the invasion began. The people
were there-protests prior to the invasion were immense, though
the involvement of protest participants rarely went beyond the vo­
cal and symbolic, as we would expect from an education strategy.
Alternative media was there-enabled by the internet it reached an
especially large number of Americans. Yet the majority of public
I 85 I
PETER Gf.LDrRLOOS
opinion in the US (which is what an education strategy seeks to
capture) did not turn against the war until the corporate media
began regularly disclosing information about the falsity of reasons
for going to war and, more importantly, the mounting costs of the
occupation. And, in full accordance with its nature, the corporate
media did not disclose this information until significant segments
of the elite themselves began to oppose the war-not because the
war was wrong or because they had been educated and enlightened,
but because they realized it was becoming counterproductive to US
interests and US power." Even in such ideal circumstances, non­
violent activists using an education strategy could not overcome
the corporate media.
In what can best be described as a stupefying social environ­
ment, the endless repetition and near-total information control
of the corporate media are much more potent than solid, well­
researched arguments supported by facts. I hope that all pacifists
understand that the corporate media is as much an agent of au­
thority as is the police force or military.
In the face of this, many activists look to alternative media.
While spreading and further radicalizing alternative media is an
important task, it cannot be the backbone of a strategy. It is read­
ily apparent that while alternative media can be an effective tool in
certain circumstances, it cannot go toe to toe with the corporate
media, primarily because of gross inequities of scale. Alternative
media is kept in check by a number of coercive market and legal
factors. Getting information to millions of people is expensive,
and the sponsors do not exist who will fund revolutionary press
en masse. The Catch-22 is that there will be no loyal readership
to subscribe to and fund a truly mass radical media as long as
the general population is indoctrinated away from radical news
sources and sedated by a culture of complacency. Beyond market
pressures exists the problem of government regulation and inter­
vention. The airwaves are the domain of the state, which can and
does shut down or undermine radical radio stations that manage
I 86 I
NONVIOliNCEISTACTICAllY& STRATEGICAllY INfERIOR
to find funding." Governments around the world-led, of course,
by the US-have also made a habit of repressing radical websites,
whether by imprisoning the webmaster on bogus charges or seiz­
ing equipment and shutting down servers on the pretext of some
terrorism investigation.f
The second barrier in the way of educating people toward
revolution is a structurally reinforced disparity in people's access
to education. Most people are not currently able to analyze and
synthesize information that challenges the integral mythologies on
which their identities and worldviews are based. This is true across
class lines. People from poor backgrounds are more likely to be
undereducated, kept in a mental environment that discourages
the development of their vocabularies and analytical skills. The
overeducation of people from wealthy backgrounds turns them
into trained monkeys; they are intensively trained to use analysis
only to defend or improve the existing system, while being incur­
ably skeptical and derisive toward revolutionary ideas or sugges­
tions that the current system is rotten to the core.
Regardless of economic class, most people in the US will
respond to radical information and analysis with syllogism,
moralism, and polemics. They will be more susceptible to pun­
dits arguing conventional wisdoms with familiar slogans than
to people presenting challenging facts and analysis. Because
of this, activists taking an educational approach tend to dumb
down the message so that they too can take advantage of the
power of cliches and platitudes. Examples include anti-war ac­
tivists who declare that "peace is patriotic" because it would be
too difficult to explain the problems with patriotism in the cur­
rent semiological terrain (never mind dynamiting the ~ e r r a i n )
and culture jammers trying to find radical "memes."?
A third barrier is a false assumption about the potency of
ideas. The education approach seems to assume that revolutionary
struggle is a contest of ideas, that there is something powerful in an
idea whose time has come. At its base it is a morality play, and it
I 87 I
PETI.R GELDERLOOS
ignores the fact that, especially in the US, a good many people on
the side of authority know quite well what they are doing. Because
of the hypocrisy of our times, people who benefit from patriarchy,
white supremacy, capitalism, or imperialism (nearly the entire
population of the Global North) like to justify their complicity
with systems of domination and oppression with any number of
altruistic lies. But a skilled debater will find that a majority of these
people, when argued into a corner, will not have an epiphany-they
will lash back with a primal defense of the evils that privilege them.
Typically, white people will claim credit for the wonders of civiliza­
tion and insist that their ingenuity entitles them to the benefits
of legacies of slavery and genocide; wealthy people will claim that
they have more right to own a factory or a hundred acres of real
estate than a poor person has to food and shelter; men will joke
about being the stronger sex and having a historically guaranteed
right to rape; US citizens will belligerently assert that they have a
right to other people's oil, or bananas, or labor, even after they
can no longer obfuscate the nature of global economic relations.
We forget that to maintain the current power structure, a good
number of technicians, be they academics, corporate consultants,
or government planners, have to constantly strategize to continue
increasing their power and effectiveness. Democratic illusions can
only run so deep, and, in the end, education will cause relatively
few privileged people to truly support revolution. On certain lev­
els, people with privilege already know what they are doing and
what their interests are. Internal contradictions will emerge as the
I
struggle gets closer to home, challenging the privileges on which
their worldview and life experiences are based and threatening
the possibility of a comfortable, enlightened revolution. People
need more than education in order to commit to a painful and
drawn-out struggle that will destroy the power structures that have
encapsulated their very identities.
Education will not necessarily make people support revolution,
and, even if it does, it will not build power. Contrary to the maxim
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NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY&' SlRATEGlCAllY INfERIOR
of the information age, information is not power. Remember that
Scientiaest potentia(knowledge is power) is the watch phrase of those
already at the helm of the state. Information itself is inert, but it
guides the effective use of power; it has what military strategists
would call a "force-multiplying effect." Ifwe have a social movement
with zero force to begin with, we can multiply that force however
many times we wish and still have a big, fat zero. Good education
can guide the efforts of an empowered social movement, just as
useful information guides the strategies ofgovernments, but the in­
formation itself will not change anything. Idly circulating subversive
information in the current context only gives the government more
opportunities to fine-tune its propaganda and its ruling strategies.
People trying to educate their way to revolution are tossing gasoline
onto a prairie fire and expecting that the right kind of fuel will stop
the fire from burning them.
(On the other hand, education can be explosively effective
when integrated into other strategies. In fact, many forms of
education are necessary for building a militant movement and
for changing the hierarchical social values that currently stand in
the way of a free, cooperative world. Militant movements have to
conduct a great deal of education to explain why they are force­
fully struggling for revolution and why they have given up on legal
means. But militant tactics open up possibilities for education
that nonviolence can never tap. Because of its imperative prin­
ciples, corporate media cannot ignore a bombing as easily as it
can ignore a peaceful protest." And even though the media wilL
slander such actions, the more images of forceful resistance people
receive through the media, the more the narcotic illusion of so­
cial peace is disrupted. People will begin to see that the system
is unstable and change is actually possible, and, thus, overcome
the greatest obstacle to change created by capitalist, media-driven
democracies. Riots and insurrections are even more successful at
creating ruptures in this dominant narrative of tranquility. Of
course, much more than this is needed to educate people. In the
I 89 I
PETERGrJJ)!'1U.OOS
end, we must destroy the corporate media and replace it with an
entirely grassroots media. People who use a diversity of tactics can
be much more effective at this, employing a number of innovative
means to sabotage corporate newspapers and radio and television
stations; hijack corporate media outlets and deliver an anti-capi­
talist broadcast; defend grassroots media outlets and punish the
agencies responsible for repressing them; or expropriate money
to fund and greatly increase the capacities of grassroots media
outlets,")
Maintaining the moral high ground, which is a more overtly
moralistic variation on this type of strategy, has a slightly differ­
ent set of weaknesses but runs into the same dead end. In the
short term, occupying the moral high ground can be effective,
and it's easy to do when your opponents are white supremacist,
chauvinistic, capitalist politicians. Activists can use protests, vigils,
and various forms of denunciation and self-sacrifice to expose the
immorality of government, either in particular or in general, and
set themselves up as a righteous alternative. "Plowshares" anti-war
activists often use this approach.
As a type of strategy for social change, occupying the moral
high ground is weakened by the critical problem of obscurity,
which is difficult to overcome given the same corporate-media
barrier discussed above. And, in media-driven democracies, which
turn the greater part of politics into a popularity contest, people
are unlikely to see a miniscule, obscure group as either moral or
imitable. However, the moral-high-ground approach sidesteps the
challenge of educating a miseducated population by relying on
extant moral values and simplifying revolutionary struggle to the
zealous pursuit of a few principles.
A group that focuses on occupying the moral high ground
also atrracts potential recruits with something the corporate me­
dia cannot offer-an existential clarity and a sense of belonging.
Plowshares pacifists and anti-war hunger strikers are often lifelong
members. However, the corporate media is not the only institu-
I 90 I
NONVIOilNCEISTACllCAllY&' STRATEGICAllY INffRIOR
rion for manufacturing social conformity. Churches, Elks lodges,
and Boy Scout troops all occupy this niche as well, and, given
the emphasis that morally elevated groups place on surrendering
to in-group culture and values, there is little critical discourse or
evaluation of the moralities involved; thus, having a morality that
is more realistic or fair confers little actual advantage. What mat­
ters more is the elevation of a particular high ground, and these
mainstream moral institutions are far stronger than pacifist groups
in terms of access to resources-in other words, they are higher up
and more visible in society, so they will overwhelmingly win the
competition for new recruits. Due to the atomization and alien­
ation of modern life, there are many gaps left unfilled by these
moral institutions, and many lonely suburbanites still grasping for
a sense of belonging, but radical pacifists will never be able to win
more than a minority of these.
Those they do win will be more empowered than the members
of a movement that aims simply to educate. People will go to great
lengths to fight for a cause they believe in, to fight for a moral
leader or ideal. But a moralistic movement has a greater potential
than an education-based movement for empowering itself and
becoming a dangerous thing (that is, eventually abandoning its
pacifism). Woe to its allies, though. Such a movement will exhibit
a mass authoritarianism and orthodoxy, and it will be particularly
prone to factionalism. It will also be easily manipulated. There is
perhaps no better example than Christianity, which evolved from
opposition movement to potent weapon of the Roman Empire,
I
from pacifistic cult to the most pathologically violent and authori­
tarian religion humanity has ever conceived.
In both variations of the morality-play approach to pacifist
strategy, the purpose is to induce the majority of a society into
joining or supporting a movement. (We can leave aside the laugh­
able pretensions of simply enlightening or shaming the authorities
into supporting revolution.) Both variations face terminal odds in
pursuit of that majority due to the effective structural controls
I 91 I
NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAUY&' STRATEGICAUYINFERIOR
PETERGflDERLOOS
over culture within modern societies. In the unlikely chance that
these odds were overcome, neither variation would be functionally
capable of winning over more than a majority. Even if education
were to become a more effective tool with privileged people it
will not work against the elite and the enforcing class, who are
given strong incentives and are culturally bound to the system,
and occupying the moral high ground necessarily entails the
creation of an inferior "other" to oppose.
At the absolute best, strategies of this type will lead to an
oppositional but passive majority, which history has shown is
easy for an armed minority to control (colonialism, for example).
Such a majority could always switch to some other type of strategy
that involves fighting and winning, but without any experience or
even intellectuaVmoral familiarity with real resistance, the transi­
tion would be difficult. Meanwhile, the government would have
recourse to easily exploitable flaws ingrained in the morality-play
strategy, and an ostensibly revolutionary movement would have
constrained itself to a horribly mismatched battle, trying to win
hearts and minds without destroying the structures that have
poisoned those hearts and minds.
Educating and building a liberating ethos are necessary to
fully root out hierarchical social relationships, but there are
concrete institutions such as law courts, public schools, boot
camps, and public relations firms that are structurally immune
to "changes of heart" and that automatically intervene in society
to indoctrinate people in the morals that uphold hierarchical
social relationships and capitalist production and consumption.
Denying ourselves nonpacifist means to strengthen the movement
and weaken or sabotage these structures leavesus in a sinking boat,
with a little bucket to bailout the water pouring in through a ten­
foot-wide hole, pretending we'll soon be high enough in the water
to set sail toward our goal. This seems like waiting for pie in the sky,
and it really should not qualify as a strategy. In a short-term battle to
prevent a new coal mine or waste incinerator from coming into the
I 92 I
neighborhood, it is possible to come up with a savvy media strategy
within pacifist constraints (especially if your education campaign
includes information about how the mine will harm privileged
people in the area). But in pursuit of any lasting changes, strategies
of this type usually can't even successfully lead to the dead end rhey
inevitably create.
Would-be revolutionaries exemplify the ineffectiveness
of nonviolence in building power when they approach their
struggle as a morality play, and also when they take the lobby­
ing approach. Lobbies were built into the political process by
institutions that already had significant power (for example,
corporations). Activists can build power by holding protests
and demonstrating the existence of a constituency (on which
their lobbyists bank), but this method for funneling power to
lobbies is much weaker, pound for pound, than the cold, hard
cash of corporations. Thus, "revolutionary" lobbies are impo­
tent compared to opposing lobbies of the status quo. Lobbying
also leads to a hierarchical and disempowered movement. The vast
majority are simply sheep who sign petitions, raise funds, or hold
protest signs, while an educated, well-dressed minority who seek
audience with politicians and other elites hold all the power.
Lobbyists will eventually identify more with the authorities than
with their constituents-courting power, they fall in love with
it, and betrayal becomes likely. If politicians run up against a
morally upright, uncompromising lobbyist, they will simply deny
that lobbyist an audience, pulling the rug out from under her
organization. Activist lobbies are most successful when they are
willing to compromise their constituency (representative politics
in a democracy being the art of selling out a constituency while
maintaining its loyalty). Some groups attempting to pressure the
authorities do not appoint any specialized lobbyists, and thus
avoid developing an elite leadership that will be co-opted by the
system; however, they have still put themselves in the position of
mobilizing pressure to get the system to change itself.
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NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &' STRATEGICAllY INffRIOR
PEm GELDERLOOS
Nonviolent activists using the lobbying strategy attempt to
craft a passive realpolitik to exercise leverage. But the only way to
use leverage against the state in pursuit of interests diametrically
opposed to those of the state is to threaten the state's existence.
Only such a threat can make the state reconsider its other inter­
ests, because the state's primary interest is self-perpetuation. In
his interpretive history of the Mexican revolution and land redis­
tribution, John Tutino points out, "But only the most persistent
and often violent rebels, like the Zapatistas, received land from
the new leaders of Mexico. The lesson was clear: only those who
threatened the regime got land; thus those seeking land must
threaten the regime."l0 This was from a government supposedly
allied with Mexico's agrarian revolutionaries-what do pacifists
think they'll get from governments whose favored constituency
is avowedly the corporate oligarchs? Frantz Fanon expressed the
same sentiment in a similar way with regard to Algeria:
When in 1956...the Front de Liberation Nationale, in a famous
leaflet, stated that colonialism only loosens its hold when the
knife is at its throat, no Algerian really found these terms too
violent. The leaflet only expressed what every Algerian felt at
heart: colonialism is not a thinking machine, nor a body en­
dowed with reasoning faculties. It isviolence in its natural state,
and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence.II
The lessons of Algeria and the Mexican revolution apply
throughout history. The struggle against authority will be violent,
because authority itself is violent and the inevitable repression is
an escalation of that violence. Even "good government" will not
redistribute power downward unless it is threatened with the loss
of all its power. Lobbying for social change is a waste of scarce
resources for radical movements. Imagine if all the millions of
dollars and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours from pro­
gressives and even radicals that went to lobby for some piece of leg­
islation or to defeat the reelection of some politician instead went
into funding activist social centers, free clinics, prisoner-support
I 94 I
groups, community conflict-resolution centers, and free schools?
We might actually lay the foundation for a serious revolutionary
movement. Instead, a huge amount of effort is wasted.
Further, activists using the lobbying approach fail to see that
making demands to authority is bad strategy. Nonviolent activists
put all their energy into forcing authorities to hear their demands
when they could use this energy to build power, to build a base
from which to wage war. If they are successful, what will they have
accomplished? At most, the government will mutrer a brief apology,
lose a little face, and meet the demand on paper (though, in real­
ity, they'll just juggle things around to obscure the problem). After
this, the activists will lose their momentum and initiative. They will
have to go on the defensive, change directions, and readjust their
campaign to point out that the reform is a fraudulent one. Their
organization's disillusioned members will drop out, and the general
public will perceive the organization as whiny and impossible to
satisfy. (No wonder so many lobby-oriented activist organizations
claim victory at the most hollow of comprornisesl)
Consider, for example, the School of the Americas Watch
(SOAW). For more than a dozen years, the organization used an­
nual passive protests, documentaries, and education campaigns
to build lobbying power to convince politicians to support a bill
to close the School of the Americas (SOA), an Army school that
trained tens of thousands of Latin American officers and soldiers
who were complicit in most of the worst human-rights abuses and
atrocities in their respective countries. By 2001, SOAW almost
had enough congressional support to pass a bill to shut down the
SOA. Sensing the danger, the Pentagon simply introduced an alter­
native bill which "closed" the SOA while immediately reopening
it under a different name. The politicians took the easy exit and
passed the Pentagon bill. For years afterward, SOAW could not
regain the support of many of the politicians, who claimed they
wanted to wait and see if the "new" school was an improvement. If
SOAW ever does succeed in closing the school by whatever name
I 95 I
PETER GElDERLOOS
it calls itself, the military can simply spread out its torture-training
operations to other military bases and programs throughout the
country, or shift most of that work to military advisers abroad.
If that happens, SOAW will be caught without a viable strategy,
without having made any dent in US militarism." When has the
US government ever let a law or treaty stop it from doing what it
wanted to do?
On the contrary, if radicals shifted their approach to directly
fight US militarism, and if they could constitute a real threat with­
out ever approaching a negotiating table, frightened government
officials would begin drafting compromises and legislating reforms
in an effort to prevent revolution. Decolonization, civil rights
legislation, and nearly every other major reform was won in this
manner. Radicals need never box themselves in or ensure betrayal
by standing in a lobby or sitting down at the negotiating table.
By refusing to be placated, revolutionaries drive a harder bargain
than those whose aim is to bargain. Even when they lose, militant
movements tend to cause reforms. The Red Brigades in Italy were
ultimately unsuccessful, but they mounted such a threat that the
Italian state instituted a number of far-reaching social-welfare and
culturally progressive measures (for example, expanding public
education and social spending, decentralizing some government
functions, bringing the Communist Party into the government,
and legalizing birth control and abortion) in an effort to drain
support from the militants' base through reformisrn."
The alternative-building approach employs one important
component of a revolutionary strategy but underestimates all the
complementary components that are necessary for success. The
idea is that by creating alternative institutions, we can provide for
an autonomous society and demonstrate that capitalism and the
state are undesirable." In actuality, while building these alterna­
tives is of the utmost importance in creating and sustaining a revo­
lutionary movement and laying the groundwork for the liberated
societies that will come after revolution, it is absolutely absurd to
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NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY{5 STRATEGICAllY INfERJOR
think that the government will sit back and let us build science­
fair experiments that will prove its obsolescence.
Events in Argentina surrounding the 2001 economic col­
lapse (for example, the factory takeovers) have greatly inspired
anti-authoritarians. Nonviolent anarchists '(many of whom are
academics) who favor the strategy of peacefully creating alterna­
tive institutions use a watered-down interpretation of events in
Argentina to inject some life into their otherwise limp strategy.
But the occupied factories in Argentina have survived by one of
two means: either becoming legally recognized and recuperated
into a capitalist economy, simply a more participatory form of
corporation; or putting in their time at the barricades-fighting
off police attempts to evict them with clubs and slingshots and
building alliances with militant neighborhood assemblies so that
the authorities fear a spreading of the conflict if they escalate
their tactics. And the factory movement is on the defensive. Its
practice and theory are in conflict because, in general, it is not
headed toward a goal of replacing capitalism by spreading worker­
controlled alternatives. The radical workers' major weakness has
been an inability to expand their movement by the expropriation
of factories where the managers are still in charge." Such a course
would put them in greater conflict with the state than they are cur­
rently ready for. To be sure, they are providing an important and
inspiring example, but as long as they are only able to take over
factories that have already been abandoned, they have not created
a model for actually replacing capitalism.
At the 2004 North American Anarchist Convergence, key­
note speaker Howard Ehrlich advised todav's anarchists to act as
though the revolution were already here and to build the-world we
want to see. Leaving aside the meaninglessness of this advice for
people in prison, indigenous people faced with genocide, Iraqis
trying to survive under occupation, Africans dying of diarrhea
simply because they are deprived of clean water, and a majority
of the world's other people, his statement makes me wonder how
I 97 I
PETER GElDERLOOS
Ehrlich could miss the lengthy history of government repression
of autonomous spaces in service of revolutionary movements.
In Harrisonburg, Virginia, we set up an anarchist community
center, allowed homeless people to sleep there through the winter,
and provided free food and clothes out of that space. Within six
months the cops shut us down using a creative array of zoning
laws and building codes." In the 1960s, the police took an active
interest in sabotaging the Black Panther program that provided
free breakfast to children.
How exactly are we supposed to build alternative institutions
if we are powerless to protect them from repression? How will we
find land on which to build alternative structures when everything
in this society has an owner? And how can we forget that capital­
ism is not timeless, that once everything was an "alternative," and
that the current paradigm developed and expanded precisely out
of its ability to conquer and consume those alternatives?
Ehrlich is right that we need to start building alternative in­
stitutions now, but wrong to de-emphasize the important work
of destroying existing institutions and defending ourselves and
our autonomous spaces in the process. Even when mixed with
more aggressive nonviolent methods, a strategy based on building
alternatives that constrains itself to pacifism will never be strong
enough to resist the zealous violence that capitalist societies em­
ploy when they conquer and absorb autonomous societies.
Finally, we have the nonviolent strategic approach of gen­
eralized disobedience. This tends to be the most permissive of
nonviolent strategies, often condoning property destruction and
symbolic physical resistance, although disciplined nonviolent
campaigns of nonviolence and disobedience also fall within this
type. The recent film The Fourth World War
17
is at the militant edge
of this conception of revolution, highlighting resistance struggles
from Palestine to Chiapas while conveniently hiding the signifi­
cant segments of those movements engaged in armed struggle,
probably for the comfort of US audiences. Disobedience strategies
I 98 I
NONVIOLENCE ISTACfiCAlLY & SlRATEGICAll.Y INffRIOR
seek to shut the system down through strikes, blockades, boycotts,
and other forms of disobedience and refusal. While many of these
tactics are extremely useful when building toward a real revolution­
ary practice, the strategy itself has a number of gaping holes.
This type of strategy can only create pressure and leverage; it can
never succeed in destroying power or delivering control of society to
the people. When a population engages in generalized disobedience,
the powerful face a crisis. The illusion of democracy is not working:
this is a crisis. Highways have been blockaded, and business has been
brought to a crawl: this is a crisis. But the people in power still control
a large surplus; they are not in danger of being starved out by the
strike. They control all the capital in the country, though some of this
has been disabled by occupations and blockades. Most importantly,
they still have control of the military and police (elites have learned
much more about retaining the loyaltyof the military since the Rus­
sian Revolution, and, in recent decades, the only significant military
defections have occurred when the military faced violent resistance
and the government seemed to be in its death throes; the police, for
their part, have alwaysbeen loyal lackeys). Behind closed doors, busi­
ness leaders, government leaders, and military leaders confer. Perhaps
they have not invited certain shamed members of the elite; perhaps
multiple factions are scheming to come out of this crisis on top. They
can use the military to break through any nonviolent barricade, retake
any occupied factory, and seizethe product of their labor if the rebels
try to conduct an autonomous economy. Ultimately, the powerful can
arrest, torture, and kill all the organizers; drive the movement under­
ground; and restore order in the streets. A rebellious population that
is conducting sir-ins or throwing rocks cannot stand up to a military
that has been given free reign to use all the weapons in its arsenal. But
behind closed doors, the country's leaders agree that such methods
are not preferable; they are a last resort. Using them would destroy the
illusion of democracy for years, and it would scare awayinvestors and
hurt the economy. So they win by letting the rebels declare victory:
under pressure from business and military leaders, the president and
I 99 I
\
PETER GEillERLOOS
a few other elected politicians step down (or, better yet, flee in a heli­
copter); the corporate media call it a revolution and begin trumpeting
the populist credentials of the replacement president (who has been
picked by the business and military leaders); and activists in the popu­
lar movement, if they have constrained themselves to nonviolence
rather than preparing for the inevitable escalation of tactics, lose just
when they are finally at the threshold of revolution.
In its long history, this strategy type has not succeeded in caus­
ing the class of owners, managers, and enforcers to defect and be
disobedient, because their interests are fundamentally opposed to
the interests of those who participate in the disobedience. What
disobedience strategies have succeeded in doing, time and time
again, is forcing out particular government regimes, though these
are always replaced by other regimes constituted from among the
elite (sometimes reformist moderates and sometimes the leadership
of the opposition movement itself). This happened in India at the
time of decolonization and in Argentina in 2001; with Marcos in
the Philippines and with Milosevic in Serbia (this latter example,
and similar "revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Lebanon, show
the ineffectiveness of generalized disobedience in actually deliver­
ing social power to the people; all of these popular coups were
actually orchestrated and financed by the US to install more mar­
ket-friendly, pro-US politicians)." It is not even proper to say the
old regimes are "forced out." Faced with rising disobedience and
the threat of real revolution, they choose to hand over power to new
regimes that they trust to honor the basic frameworks of capitalism
and state. When they do not have the option of a transfer of power,
they take off the gloves and attempt to brutalize and dominate the
movement, which cannot defend itself and survive without escalat­
ing tactics. This is what happened to the anti-authoritarian labor
movement in the US in the 1920s.
Generalized disobedience strategies attempt to shut down
the system, and even in that endeavor they are less effective than
militant strategies. Within the same context as that required for
I 100 I
NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY&' SlRATEGlCAllYINffRlOR
generalized disobedience-a broad and well-organized rebellious
movement-if we do not restrict the movement to nonviolence,
but support a diversity of tactics, it will be tremendously more
effective. In terms of shutting the system down, there can be
no comparison between peacefully locking down to a bridge or
train line and blowing it up. The latter causes a longer-lasting ob­
struction, costs more to be cleared up, requires a more dramatic
response from the authorities, does more to damage the morale
and public image of the authorities, and allows the perpetrators
to escape and fight another day. Blowing up a train line (or using
some less dramatic and less threatening form of sabotage, if the
social situation suggests that this will be more effective) will scare
and anger people opposed to the liberation movement more than
a peaceful lockdown will. But it will also cause them to take the
movement more seriously, rather than dismiss it as a nuisance. (Of
course, those who practice a diversity of tactics have the option to
carry out a peacefullockdown or an act of sabotage, depending on
their estimation of what the public response will be.)
While somewhat useful to workers, a strategy of generalized
disobedience has no relevance to already marginalized, surplus
populations such as the many indigenous nations slated for expul­
sion or extermination, because their participation is not vital to
the functioning of the aggressor state. The Ache of the Amazon
do not pay any taxes to withhold, and they do not work any jobs
to walk out from. The genocidal campaign against them does not
hinge on their cooperation or noncooperrtion. People whom the
authorities would love to see just up and die can win no leverage
through disobedience.
As we have seen, the major types of nonviolent strategies all
encounter insurmountable dead ends in the long term. Morality­
play strategies misunderstand the way the state maintains control;
thus, they are blind to the barriers posed by media and cultural
institutions, and they offer no counter to the ability of armed mi­
norities to control unarmed majorities. The lobbying approach
I 101 I
PETER GELDERLOOS NONVIOUNCE ISTACllCAllY&' SlRATEGICAll YINffRIOR
wastes resources trying to pressure the government into acting in
contradiction to its own interests. Strategies centered on build­
ing alternatives ignore the state's ability to repress radical projects
and capitalism's talent for absorbing and corrupting autonomous
societies. Generalized disobedience strategies open the door t6
revolution but deny popular movements the tactics necessary to
expropriate direct control of the economy, redistribute wealth,
and destroy the repressive apparatus of the state.
The long-term view that shows these nonviolent strategy types
to be ineffective also makes the chances of any militant strategy
seem bleak, seeing as how most anarchist communities in the
US today are probably completely unprepared to defend them­
selves against the state. But it is in our everyday organizing that
anti-authoritarians can strategically overcome passivity and foster
militancy, and thus change the prospects for future struggles.
Nonviolent strategies prevent this work. They also disadvantage
us in interactions with the police and media, two examples that
are worth going into.
Nonviolence plays into community. policing and crowd control
strategies. The tactics of pacifism, like many of the tactics of mod­
ern crowd control policing, are designed to de-escalate potentially
insurrectionary situations. In his recent book detailing the history
and development of the modern US police forces, OUT Enemies
in Blue, Kristian Williams documents how the crisis of the 1960s
and 70s demonstrated to police that their methods of dealing with
popular insurrection (such as urban riots and militant protests)
only encouraged more resistance and more violence on the part
of the resisters." The resistance was empowered, the police lost
control, and the government had to send in the military (further
eroding the illusion of democracy and opening the possibility of
real rebellion). In the years afterward, the police developed com­
munity policing strategies-to improve their image and control
potentially subversive community organizing-and crowd control
tactics emphasizing de-escalation. Descriptions of these tactics
I 102 I
mirror exactly pacifist recommendations for conducting protests.
The police allow minor forms of disobedience while maintain­
ing communication with protest leaders, whom they pressure in
advance to get the protest to police itself. "Peace marshals," police
liaisons, and march permits are all aspects of this police strategy,
which leads me to wonder if pacifists came up with these ideas
independently, as a function of their implicitly statist mentality,
or if they were so enthusiastic about loving their enemy that they
swallowed whole the suggestions of that enemy for how to con­
duct the resistance. Either way, as long as we continue to tolerate
nonviolent leadership, the police will have us right where they
want us. But if we refuse to de-escalate and to cooperate with the
police, we can organize disruptive protests when they are needed
and fight for the interests of our community or our cause without
compromise.
Nonviolence also leads to bad media strategies. Nonviolent
codes of conduct for protest actions contradict the number-one
rule of media relations: always stay on message. Nonviolent activ­
ists do not need to employ nonviolence codes to keep themselves
peaceful. They do it to enforce ideological conformity and to as­
sert their leadership over the rest of the crowd. They also do it as
insurance, so that if any uncontrollable elements do act violently
during a protest, they can protect their organization from being
demonized in the media. They whip out the nonviolence code as
proof that they were not responsible for the violence, and pros­
trate themselves before the reigning order. At this point, they have
already lost the media war. The typical exchange goes something
like this:
Reporter: What do you have to say about the windows that
were smashed in today's protest? ~
Protestor: Our organization has a well-publicized nonviolence
pledge. We condemn the actions of extremists who are ruin­
ing this protest for the well-meaning people who care about ,
saving the forests/stopping the war/halting these evictions.
I 103 I
Pf1rRGB.Df.R!..OOS
Activists rarely get more than two-line quotes or ten-second
clips in the corporate media. The nonviolent activists exemplified
in this skit waste their fleeting spotlight by going on the defensive;
making their issue secondary to the concerns of the elite (prop­
erty destruction by protestors); seemingly admitting weakness,
failure, and disorganization to the public (by simultaneously tak­
ing responsibility for other protestors while bemoaning failure to
control them); and, not least of all, backstabbing allies in public
and dividing the movernent.P That exchange should have looked
like this:
Reporter: What do you have to say about the windows that
were smashed in todav's protest?
Protestor: It pales in comparison to the violence of deforesta­
tion/the war/these evictions. [Insert potent facts about the
issue.]
If pressed, or asked by law enforcement, activists might insist
that they were not personally responsible for the property destruc­
tion and cannot comment on the motivations of those who were.
(But it is best not to talk with members of the corporate media
as though they were human beings because they rarely comport
themselves in such a manner. Activists should only answer in
concise statements that tactfully address the issue; otherwise,
editors are likely to run inane quotes and censor informative or
challenging quotes.) If activists are successful in keeping the fo­
cus on the actual issue, they can avail themselves of subsequent
opportunities to clear their names while again driving home the
issue at hand (with tactics such as writing letters to the editor or
protesting a media outlet's libelous accusations). But if activists
are more concerned with clearing their names than addressing the
issue, they are stillborn.
At first glance, a militant conception of revolution seems more
impractical than a nonviolent conception, but this is because it is
realistic. People need to understand that capitalism, the state, white
I 104 I
NONVlOI..f.NCf ISTACTICAlLY &' SlRAITGICAlLY lNffRIOR
supremacy, imperialism, and patriarchy all constitute a war against
the people of this planet. And revolution is an intensification of
that war. We cannot liberate ourselves and create the worlds we
want to'live in if we think of fundamental social change as shining a
light in the darkness, winning hearts and minds, speaking truth to
power, bearing witness, capturing people's attention, or any other
passive parade. Millions of people die every year on this planet for
no better reason than a lack of clean drinking water. Because the
governments and corporations that have usurped control of the
commons have not found a way to profit from those people's lives,
they let them die. Millions of people die every year because a few
corporations and their allied governments do not want to allow
the production of generic AIDS drugs and other medicine. Do you
think the institutions and the elite individuals who hold the power
of life or death over millions give a fuck about our protests? They
have declared war on us, and we need to take it back to them. Not
because we are angry (though we should be), not to get revenge, and
not because we are acting impulsively, but because we have weighed
the possibility of freedom against the certainty of shame from living
under whatever form of domination we are faced with in our par­
ticular corner of the globe; because we realize that some people are
already fighting, often alone, for their liberation, and that they have
a right to and we should support them; and because we understand
that the overlapping prisons that entomb our world have by now
been so cleverly constructed that the only way to free ourselves is
to fight and destroy these prisons and defeat the jailers by whatever
means necessary.
Realizing that this is a war can help us decide what we need to
do and craft effective strategies for the long haul. Those of us liv­
ing in North America, Europe, and some other parts of the world
live under the illusion of democracy. The government politely pre­
tends it would never kill us if we challenged its authority, but that
is a thin veneer. In his annual address to Congress, on December
3, 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt, speaking of the enemy of
I 105 I
PETfR GELDERLOOS
NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &' STRATEGICAllY INrERIOR
the day, declared: "We should war with relentless efficiency not
only against anarchists, but against all active and passive sympa­
thizers with anarchists.'?' One hundred years later, in September
2001, President George W. Bush announced: "Either you are with
us, or you are with the terrorists."lZ
Aside from showing how little our government has changed
in a century, this quote poses an interesting question. Of course
we can reject Bush's demand that if we do not line up with
Osama bin Laden then we should declare allegiance to the
White House. But if we insist on disloyalty, then regardless of
our personal affiliations Bush has judged us as terrorists, and the
Justice Department has demonstrated that it might prosecute us
as such-in its campaign against the radical environmental activ­
ists it has labeled "ecoterrorists'Ir'? in the Joint Terrorism Task
Force's spying on dissidents; and in the harassment, repression,
and deportation of Muslims and immigrants that has been the
major domestic "security" activity of the government since Sep­
tember 11. We could proudly recognize that "terrorist" has been
governments' label of choice for freedom fighters for decades,
and certainly this honor is premature given the state of our
movement. But the pacified resistance in the US is not comfort­
able in the role of freedom fighter. Instead of acknowledging the
war that already exists, we have shuffled over to the safe side of
Bush's dichotomy, whether we admit it or not, and nonviolence
has been our excuse.
General Frank Kitson, an influential British military, police, and
social-control theoretician whose strategies have been disseminated
and adopted by state planners and police agencies in the US, breaks
social disturbances down into three stages: preparation, nonviolence,
and insurgency. Z4 Police understand this, and they do what they can
to keep dissidents and disaffected masses held back in the first two
stages. Many of those dissidents do not understand this. They do not
understand what it will take to redistribute power in our society, and
they prevent themselves and their allies from going all the way.
I 106 I
Quite evidently, the state is more afraid of militant groups than
nonviolent groups, and I have used this as evidence that militant
groups are more effective. The state understands that it has to
react more forcefully and energetically to neutralize militant revo­
lutionary movements. I have heard quite a few nonviolent activists
turn this very fact on its head to argue that nonviolent attempts at
revolution are more effective because militant attempts will be sav­
agely repressed (and in other chapters I have quoted these activists
to show that their primary concern is their own safety). True, the
path to revolution envisioned by militant activists is much more
dangerous and difficult than the one envisioned by pacifists, but
it also has the advantage of being realistic, unlike the pacifist fan­
tasy. But this logical juggling is worth examining.
Pacifists claim they are more effective because they are more likely
to survive repression. The reasoning is that militants give the state
an excuse to eliminate them (the excuse being self-defense against
a violent enemy), whereas states are unable to use overwhelming
violence against pacifists because there can be no justification.
The gullible assumption on which this reasoning is based is that
governments are ruled by public opinion, rather than vice versa.
Getting past the sophistry of nonviolence, we can easily establish
the factor that determines whether government repression will be a
popular measure in the court of public opinion. That factor is the
popular legitimacy, or lack thereof, which the resistance movement
enjoys-it has nothing to do with violence or nonviolence. If the
people do not see a resistance movement as legitimate or important,
if they wave the flag with all the rest, they will cheer even when the
government carries out massacres. But if the people sympathize with
the resistance movement, then government repression will foster
more resistance. The slaughter of a peaceful group of Cheyenne
and Arapaho at Sand Creek only brought applause from the white
citizenry of the Union; similar was the national response to the
repression of harmless "communists" in the 1950s. But at times
of peak popularity, British attempts to repress the Irish Republi­
) 107 I
NONVIOUNCE ISTACTlCAllY&' SlRATEGICAllY INffRIOR
rEITRGELDERLOOS
can Army (IRA) only brought more support for the IRA and more
shame to the Brits, both within Ireland and internationally. In the
last decade, Serbian attempts to crush the Kosovo Liberation Army
had the same effect.
The government is able to repress both nonviolent and mili­
tant groups without causing a backlash so long as it has control
over the ideological terrain. Nonviolent groups can operate with
less cultural independence and popular support because they
tend to aim lower and pose less of a threat, whereas a militant
group, by its very existence, is a direct challenge to the state mo­
nopoly on force. Militant groups understand that they need to
overcome the state, and, until they help create a broad culture
of resistance (or unless they arise out of such a culture), they
will be isolated and on the run. Pacifists, on the other hand,
have the option of forswearing confrontation with state power
and pretending they are engaged in some process of magically
transforming the state through the "power of love," or their
"nonviolent witness," or by disseminating heartwrenching im­
ages of cardboard puppets through the media, or some other
swill. The prevalence or scarcity of pacifism is a good barometer
for the weakness of the movement. Strong popular support al­
lows a radical movement to survive repression; if a movement
has built popular support for militant struggle against the state,
they are that much closer to victory.
A state decides to repress activists and social movements when
it perceives dissidents' goals as threatening and achievable. If the
goal is to seize or destroy state power, and agents of the state think
there is any chance of approaching that goal, they will repress or
destroy the movement, regardless of the tactics advocated. Does
violence encourage repression? Not necessarily. Let us consider
some case studies and compare the repression of the Wobblies
with that of the immigrant Italian anarchists or the Appalachian
miners. All three cases took place in the same time period, through
World War I and the 1920s, in the United States.
\ 108 I
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)-members were
known as "Wobblies"-was an anarchist labor union seeking the
abolition of wage labor. At its peak in 1923, the IWW had nearly
half a million members and active supporters. In the earlier days,
the union was militant: some of the IWW leaders encouraged sab­
otage. However, the union never fully rejected nonviolence, and
its main tactics were education, protest, "free speech fights," and
civil disobedience. The IWW's above-ground organization and
centralized structure made it an easy target for government repres­
sion. In response to state pressure, the organization did not even
take a position to oppose World War I. "In the end, the leadership
decided against explicitly encouraging the membership to violate
the law [by opposing the draft]. The way they were subsequently
treated by federal and state officials, however, they may as well
have."25 The Wobblies also accommodated state demands for pas­
sivity by suppressing a pamphlet of a 1913 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
speech encouraging sabotage. The IWW withdrew similar books
and pamphlets from circulation and "officially renounced the use
of sabotage by any of its members."26 Of course, none of these
actions saved the union from repression because the government
had already identified it as a threat to be neutralized. The IWW's
goal (abolition of wage labor through the gradual shortening of
the work week) was a threat to the capitalist order, and the size of
the union gave it the power to circulate these dangerous ideas and
carry out significant strikes. One hundred Chicago Wobblies were
put on trial in 1918, in addition to IWW organizers from Sacra­
mento and Wichita; the government accused them of sedition,
advocating violence, and criminal syndicalism. All were convicted.
After the imprisonment and other repression (including lynch­
ings of IWW organizers in some cities), "the dynamic force of the
union was lost; it never regained its hold on the American labor
movement."27 The Wobblies accommodated state power and paci­
fied themselves, renouncing violent tactics; this was a step along
the road of their repression. They were jailed, beaten, lynched.
I 109 I
PEm Gf.U)I'RLOOS
The government repressed them because of the radicalism and
popularity of their vision. Renouncing violence prevented them
from defending that vision.
Immigrant Italian anarchist militants living in New England
survived government repression at least as well as the Wobblies,
though their ranks were much smaller and their tactics more spec­
tacular-they bombed the homes and offices of several government
officials, and they almost killed US attorney general A. Mitchell
Palmer." The most militant of the Italian anarchists were the
Galleanists," who threw themselves into the class war. Unlike the
Wobblies, they vocally and openly organized against World War
I, holding protests, making speeches, and publishing some of the
most uncompromising and revolutionary anti-war tracts in papers
such as Cronaca Sovversiva (which the Justice Department declared
"the most dangerous newspaper published in this country").30 In
fact, several of them were shot to death by police at anti-war pro­
tests. The Galleanists energetically supported labor organizing in
New England factories and were key supporters of several major
strikes; they also found time to organize against the rising tide of
fascism in the US. But the Galleanists left their deepest mark with
their refusal to accept government repression.
They carried out dozens of bombings in New England cities
and in Milwaukee, New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, DC, and
elsewhere, mostly in response to the arrest or killing of comrades
by state forces. Some of these attacks were well-coordinated cam­
paigns involving multiple simultaneous bombings. The largest
was the 1920bombing of Wall Street in response to the frame-up
of Sacco and Vanzetti (who were not involved in the Braintree
robbery for which they were executed but probably played sup­
port roles in some of the Galleanist bombings). That act killed
33 people, caused $2 million in damage, and destroyed, among
other things, the House of Morgan, J.P. Morgan's capitol build­
ing of American finance, as it were. The feds organized a massive
investigation and manhunt but never caught anybody. Paul Avrich
I no I
NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY&' SlRATEGlCAllYINfERIOR
has established the bombing to be the work of a lone Galleanist,
Mario Buda, who escaped to Italy and continued his work until he
was arrested by the Mussolini regime."
The government undertook major efforts to repress the Italian
anarchists, and with only partial success. Government forces killed
a few by police action or judicial execution, and imprisoned more
than a dozen more, but unlike the Wobblies, the Galleanists avoided
being arrested en masse. This was, in part, due to the decentralized,
security-conscious forms of organization that the Italians' concept of
militant revolution influenced them to adopt. And it should be noted
that the Galleanists were especially at risk of government repression
because, unlike many of the Wobblies, they could be targeted with
WASP xenophobia and threatened with deportation. (In fact, about
80 of them were deported, yet the others were able to stay highly
active.") The Galleanists' uncompromising response to state repres­
sion had at least some measurable results in discouraging repression
(aside from making both government and factory bosses afraid to do
anything to further incite their workers, lest they join the anarchist
bomb throwers). Through the threat of letter bombs, they caused the
prodigal Bureau of Investigation detective who had been instrumen­
tal in tracking down and arresting several of their comrades in 1918 to
go into hiding and then leave the bureau entirely in 1919.
33
The only
consequences that the government agents responsible for repressing
the Wobblies had to deal with were promotions.
From 1919 to 1920, the height of the Red Scare took its toll
on the Italian anarchists, though they remained active and un­
compromising and did not fold as quickly as the Wobblies. In
October 1920, Cronaca Sovversiva, the newspaper that served as
a hub for many of the Galleanists, was finally suppressed by the
authorities, and the focus of immigrant Italian anarchist activ­
ity returned to Italy, to which many of the activists fled or were
deported. The end of their movement in the United States was
not the end of their movement overall, however, and for several
years these anarchists were key opponents to Mussolini, who, like
I 111 I
NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &' STRATEGICAllYINfERIOR
PETER GPLDERLOOS
his American colleagues, feared them and prioritized their repres­
sion. (In fact, the new Bureau of Investigation director, J. Edgar
Hoover, supplied the fascists with invaluable information for the
specific purpose of destroying the Italian anarchisrs.r') And some
of the exiled Italian anarchists took part in the Spanish Civil War
in 1936. Though Italian anarchism in the US "never recovered"
after 1920, "the anarchists by no means vanished from the scene."35
With an international focus, they organized opposition to the rising
communist and fascist dictatorships (they were at the "forefront of
antifascist struggle" in Little Iralvs throughout the US),36 and
also turned Sacco and Vanzetti's support campaign into a world­
wide cause.
Far from being universally alienating figures, Sacco and
Vanzetti won the support of their communities-Italians as well as
WASPs-and the support of public figures in the US and Europe,
this despite being imprisoned and their continued call for violent
revolution and bombing campaigns against the authorities. Their
supporters on the outside did not disappoint them. From 1926
to 1932, anarchists carried out several more bombings, targeting
the judge, the governor, the executioner, and the person whose
call to the police got the two arrested; none of the bombers were
ever caught. The Italian anarchists also continued to agitate and
spread their ideas-the successor to Cronaca Sovversiva, L'Adunata
dei Refrattari, was published for another 40 years, into the 1960s.
The 1921 Mine War in West Virginia offers another example of
government responses to militant tactics. When the mine owners
repressed the efforts of the miners to form unions-firing union
members and bringing in scabs-Appalachian rebels responded
forcefully. They opened fire on scabs and killed several coal-company
thugs and deputies sent to repress them. In time, a guerrilla conflict
and then a full-blown war developed. On several occasions, police
and company thugs opened fire on miners' encampments, targeting
women and children. In the most famous massacre, they gunned
down Sid Hatfield, who, in his capacity as sheriff, actually fought
I 112 I
against the repression carried out by company thugs. Thousands
of armed miners formed an army and marched on Logan, West
Virginia, to remove (and hang) the sheriff there, who was especially
active in repressing the union miners. The US Army responded
with thousands of troops, machine guns, and even bombardment
by airplanes in what became known as the Battle of Blair Moun­
tain. After the battle, the union miners backed down. But despite
participating in one of the century's largest acts of armed mutiny,
very few of them got serious prison sentences-most of the rebels
received no punishment at all-and the government eased off some­
what and allowed the unionization of the mines (their union still
exists today). 37
More recently, police strategists writing about the anarchist
movement have noted, "Intelligence gathering among the most rad­
ical-and often most violent-factions is particularly difficult....The
very nature of the movement's suspicion and operational security
enhancements makes infiltration difficult and time consuming.P"
So the claims that nonviolent groups are more likely to survive
repression do not stand up to scrutiny. Excluding the tendency of
pacifists to roll over in advance so they never pose a threat of changing
anything, it seems that actually the opposite is true.
Consider a few timely points regarding nonviolent so-called
resistance to the US occupation of Iraq, one of the most pressing
issues of the day. Pacifism sees victory as avoiding or decreasing vio­
lence, so naturally pacifists cannot confront violence directly. Any
real resistance to military occupation would lead to an increase in
violence (as the occupiers attempt to stamp out resistance) before
liberation and the possibility of real peace-it has to get worse be­
fore it gets better. If the Iraqi resistance is overcome, the situation
will appear more peaceful, but, in reality, the spectacular violence
of warfare will have turned into the threatened, invisible, and
mundane violence of successful occupation, and the Iraqi people
will be much further away from liberation. Yet nonviolent activists
are prone to misinterpret this apparent peace as a victory, much as
I 113 I
PETER GllDERLOOS
they interpreted the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam as a
victory, even though bombing intensified and a US-backed regime
continued to occupy South Vietnam.
What nonviolent anti-war activists are unable to realize is that the
most important resistance, probably the only significant resistance, to
the occupation ofIraq is the resistance being waged bythe Iraqi people
themselves. On the whole, the Iraqis have chosen armed struggle."
Americans who condemn this while lacking any personal knowledge
of what it is like to organize resistance in Iraq only flaunt their igno­
rance. People in the US who claim to be anti-war use nonviolence as
an excuse to avoid their responsibility to support the Iraqi resistance.
They also parrot corporate media propaganda and pretend that all
Iraqi resistance groups are composed of authoritarian, patriarchal
fundamentalists, when it is an accessible fact, to anyone who cares to
know, that the Iraqi resistance contains a great diversity of groups and
ideologies. Nonviolence, in this case, is a greater obstacle than the fear
of government repression to building relationships of solidarity and
becoming critical allies to the most liberatory of resistance groups.
Condemning them all ensures that the only groups getting outside
support are the authoritarian, patriarchal, fundamentalist ones. The
approach of the US anti-war movement in relation to the Iraqi resis­
tance does not merely qualify as bad strategy: it reveals a total lack of
strategy, and it is something we need to fix.
The strategies of nonviolence cannot defeat the state-they
tend to reflect a lack of understanding of the very nature of the
state. The power of the state is self-perpetuating; it will defeat
liberation movements with any means at its disposal. If attempts
to overthrow such a power structure survive the first stages of re­
pression, the elite will turn the conflict into a military one, and
people using nonviolent tactics cannot defeat a military. Pacifism
cannot defend itself against uncompromising extermination. As
explained in one study of revolution in modern societies:
During World War II the Germans were not familiar with
passive resistance (when it occurred); but roday's armed forces
I 114 I
NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAlLY&' SlRATEGICAlLYINffRlOR
are far better prepared to cope with non-violence" both techni­
callyand psychologically.Advocates of non-violence, one Brit­
ish military specialist reminds us, "are inclined to overlook
that fact that its main successes have been obtained against
opponents whose code of morality was fundamentally simi­
lar, and whose ruthlessness was thereby restrained...The only
impression it seems to have made on Hitler was to excite his
impulse to trample on what, to his mind, was contemptible
weakness...." If we accept the premise of the black revolution­
ists in this country, namely, that we live in a racist society, less
ruthlessness can hardly be expected....
It might be interesting to try to depict the course of a non­
violent insurrection....Actually, "role-playing" experiments
in "civilian defense" have already taken place. In a thirty-one
hour experiment on Grindstone Island in Ontario Province,
Canada, in August 1965, thirty-one non-violent "defenders"
had to deal with six "armed" men representing a United
States-supported "right wing Canadian government [which
had] occupied major portions of the Canadian heartland..."
At the end of the experiment, thirteen of the defenders were
"dead"; the participants "concluded that the experiment had
been a defeat for non-violence.I"?
The history of its practice leads me to the same conclusion:
nonviolence cannot defend itself against the state, much less over­
throw it. The proclaimed power of nonviolence is a delusion that
gives its practitioners safety and moral capital to make up for an
inability to win.
I 115 I
Ward Churchill has argued that paci­
fism is pathological. I would say rhat,
at the least, the advancement of non­
violence as a revolutionary practice in
the present context is dependent on a
number of delusions. Where to begin?
6
Often, after showing that the victo­
ries of nonviolence were not victories at
all, except for the state, I have encoun­
tered the simplistic counterargument
that because some particular militant
NONVIOLENCE IS struggle or act of violence was unsuc­
cessful, "violence" is equally ineffec­
DELUDED
tive. I don't recall ever hearing anyone
say that the use of violence ensures victory. I hope everyone can
see the difference between showing the failures of pacifist victories
and showing the failures of militant struggles that no one ever
claimed as victories. It is not controversial to assert that militant
social movements have succeeded in changing society, or even
becoming the prevalent force in society. To restate that: everyone
must admit that struggles using a diversity of tactics (including
armed struggle) can succeed. History is full of examples: revolu­
tions in North and South America, France, Ireland, China, Cuba,
Algeria, Vietnam, and so forth. It is also not terribly controversial
to assert that anti-authoritarian militant movements have suc­
ceeded for a time in liberating areas and creating positive social
changes in those areas. Cases in point include collectivization in
the Spanish Civil War and in Makhno's Ukraine, the autonomous
zone in the Shinmin Province created by the Korean Anarchist
Communist Federation, and the temporary breathing room won
for the Lakota by Crazy Horse and his warriors. What is debatable,
to some, is whether militant movements can win and survive in
the long term while remaining anti-authoritarian. To convincingly
argue against this possibility, pacifists would have to show that
I 117 I
PETIR GELDERLOOS
using violence against an authority inevitably makes one take on
authoritarian characteristics. This is something that pacifists have
not done and cannot do.
Often, pacifists prefer to characterize themselves as righteous
than to logically defend their position. Most people who have
heard the arguments of nonviolence have witnessed the formula­
tion or assumption that nonviolence is the path of the dedicated
and disciplined, and that violence is the"easy way out," a giving in
to base emotions.' This is patently absurd. Nonviolence 'is the easy
way out. People who choose to commit themselves to nonviolence
face a far more comfortable future than those who choose to com­
'mit themselves to revolution. A prisoner of the black liberation
movement told me in correspondence that when he joined the
struggle (as a teenager, no less), he knew he would end up either
dead or in prison. Many of his comrades are dead. For continuing
the struggle behind prison walls, he has been locked up in solitary
confinement for longer than I have been alive. Compare this with
the recent comfortable, commemorated deaths of David Dellinger
and Phil Berrigan. Nonviolent activists can give their lives to their
cause, and a few have, but, unlike militant activists, they do not
face a point of no return after which there is no going back to a
comfortable life. They can always save themselves by compromis­
ing their total opposition, and most do.
Aside from reflecting an ignorance of the reality of the different
consequences of certain political actions, the belief that nonpacifist
struggle is the easy way out is often tinged with racism. The authors
of the essay "Why Nonviolence?" do their best throughout the en­
tire essay to avoid mention of race, but in the question-and-answer
section they provide a veiled response to criticisms that pacifism is
racist by painting "oppressed people" (black people) as angry and im­
pulse-driven. "Q: Demanding nonviolent behavior from oppressed
people toward their oppressors is senseless and unfair! They need
to act out their anger!"! The authors' "answer" to this contrived
criticism of nonviolence includes many of the typical and deluded
I 118 I
NONVIOlENCEISDELUDED
fallacies already discussed: the authors counsel people who are far
more oppressed than they are to have patience with conditions they
couldn't possibly comprehend; the authors advise people of color to
act in a way that is "ennobling and pragmatic"; the authors forestall
criticisms of racism by dropping the name of a token person of
color; and the authors conclude by tacitly threatening that militant
activism on the part of people of color will result in abandonment
and betrayal by powerful white "allies." To wit:
As for unfairness, if the oppressed could wish it away, they
would no longer be oppressed. There is no pain-free road to
liberation. Given the inevitability of suffering, it is both en­
nobling and pragmatic to present nonviolent discipline and
suffering (as did Martin Luther King, Jr.) as imperatives. "Act­
ing out anger" in a way that costs a group allies is a luxury
serious movements cannot afford.'
Pacifists delude themselves in thinking of revolutionary
activism as being impulsive, irrational, and coming solely from
"anger." In fact, revolutionary activism, in some of its manifesta­
tions, has a pronounced intellectual streak. After the Detroit
riots of 1967, a government commission found that the typical ri­
oter (in addition to being proud of his or her race and hostile to
white people and middle-class black people) "is substantially bet­
ter informed about politics than Negroes who were not involved
in the riots.?" George Jackson educated himself in prison, and
emphasized in his writings the need for militant black people
to study their historical relationship to their oppressors and
learn the "scientific principles" of urban guerrilla warfare.' The
Panthers read Mao, Kwame Nkrumah, and Frantz Fanon, and
required new members to educate themselves on the political
theories behind their revolution.? When he was finally captured
and brought to trial, revolutionary New Afrikan anarchist Ku­
wasi Balagoon rejected the court's legitimacy and proclaimed the
right of black people to liberate themselves in a statement many
pacifists could learn volumes from:
I 119 I
NONVIOllNCE ISDELUDID
PETERGfIDERLOOS
Before becoming a clandestine revolutionary i was a tenant
organizer and was arrested for menacing a 270 pound colo­
nial building superintendent with a machete, who physically
stopped the delivery of oil to a building i didn't live in, but
had helped to organize. Being an organizer for the Communi­
ty Council on Housing i took part in not only organizing rent
strikes, but pressed slumlords to make repairs and maintain
heat and hot water, killed rats, represented tenants in court,
stopped illegal evictions, faced off City Marshals, helped turn
rents into repair resources and collective ownership by ten­
ants and demonstrated whenever the needs of tenants were
at stake....Then i began to realize that with all this effort, we
couldn't put a dent in the problem...
Legal rituals have no effect on the historic process of armed
struggle by oppressed nations. The war will continue and in­
tensify, and as for me, i'd rather be in jail or in the grave than
do anything other than fight the oppressor of my people. The
New Afrikan Nation as well as the Native American Nations
are colonialized within the present confines of the United
States, as the Puerto Rican and Mexicano Nations are colo­
\ nialized within as well as outside the present confines of the
United States. We have a right to resist, to expropriate money
and arms, to kill the enemy of our people, to bomb and do
whatever else aids us in winning, and we will win,"
In comparison, the strategic and tactical analysis of nonviolent
activism is rather simplistic, rarely rising above the regurgitation
of hackneyed cliches and moralistic truisms. The amount of
studious preparations required to successfully carry out militant
actions, compared with the amount required for nonviolent ac­
tions, also contradicts the perception that revolutionary activism
is impulsive.
People willing to acknowledge the violence of revolution-it
is misleading to talk about choosing violence because violence
is inherent in social revolution and the oppressive status quo
that precedes it, whether we use violent means or not-are more
I 120 I
likely to understand the sacrifices involved. Any knowledge of
what revolutionaries prepare themselves for and go through
demonstrates the cruelly ignorant farce, of the pacifist procla­
mation that revolutionary violence is impulsive. As already
mentioned, the writings of Frantz Fanon were among the most
influential for black revolutionaries in the United States during
the black liberation movement. The last chapter of his book The
Wretched of the Earth deals entirely with "colonial war and mental
disorders," with the psychological trauma incurred as a matter
of course from colonialism and the "total war" waged by the
French against the Algerian freedom fighters" (a war, I should
note, that makes up a large part of the textbook used by the US
in counterinsurgency warfare and wars of occupation up to the
present moment). People who fight for revolution do know what
they are getting into, to the extent that the horror of these things
can be known. But do pacifists?
A further delusion (expressed by pacifists who want to appear
militant and powerful) is that pacifists do fight back, only non­
violently. This is rubbish. Sitting down and locking arms is not
fighting, it is a recalcitrant capitulation." In a situation involving
a bully or a centralized power apparatus, physically fighting back
discourages future attacks because it raises the costs of oppression
incurred by the oppressor. The meek resistance of nonviolence
only makes it easier for the attacks to continue. At the next protest,
for instance, see how reluctant the police are to fence in militant
groups such as the black bloc and subject them all to mass arrest.'?
The cops know that they'll need one or two cops for every protes­
tor and that some of them are going to end up badly hurt. The
peaceful, on the other hand, can be barricaded in by a relatively
small number of cops, who can then go into the crowd at their
leisure and carry off the limp protestors one by one.
Palestine is another example. There can be no doubt that the
Palestinians are an inconvenience to the Israeli state, and that the
Israeli state has no concern for the well-being of the Palestinians.
I 121 I
PETER GPlD!'.RLOOS
If the Palestinians hadn't made the Israeli occupation and every
successive aggression so costly, all the Palestinian land would be
seized, except for a few reservations to hold the necessary number of
surplus laborers to supplement the Israeli economy, and the Pales­
tinians would be a distant memory in a long line of extinct peoples.
Palestinian resistance, including suicide bombings, has helped en­
sure Palestinian survival against a far more powerful enemy.
Nonviolence further deludes itself and its converts with the
truism "Society has always been violent. It is nonviolence that is
revolutionarv,"!' In practice, our society honors and commemo­
rates both pro-state violence and respectable, dissident pacifism.
The very activist who claimed that our society is already pro­
violence can drop the name of Leon Czolgosz (the anarchist
who assassinated President McKinley) in a guest op-ed in the
local corporate newspaper and know that a mainstream audi­
ence will respond to that violent personage with condemnation.
Meanwhile, the same activist references pacifists like King and
Gandhi to give his beliefs an aura of respectability in the main­
stream eyeP If society is already in favor of violence across the
board, and pacifism is revolutionary enough to fundamentally
challenge our society and its ingrained oppressions, why does
Czolgosz warrant hatred while Gandhi warrants approval?
Pacifists also harbor delusions about the decency of the
state and, subconsciously, about the amount of protection their
privileges will afford them. Students leading the occupation of
Tiananmen Square in "Autonomous Beijing" thought that their
"revolutionary" government would not open fire on them if they re­
mained a peaceful, loyal opposition. "The students' nearly complete
misunderstanding of the nature of legitimacy under bureaucratic
power and the illusion that the Party could be negotiated with,
left them defenseless both in terms of the theoretical means of
describing their undertaking and in regards to the narrow practice
of civil disobedience it led them to adopt."!' Thus, when the stu­
dents who had put themselves in control of the movement refused
I 122 I
NONVIOLENCE ISDELUDED
to arm themselves (unlike many in the working-class suburbs, who
were less educated and more intelligent), the whole movement
. was vulnerable, and Autonomous Beijing was crushed by the
tanks of the People's Liberation Army. The students at Kent State
were similarly shocked, even as the same government that killed
a paltry number of them was massacring millions of people in
Indochina without consequence or hesitation.
In the end, nonviolence has all the intellectual depth of a
media sound bite. Pacifism requires a very vague, broad, loaded,
and non-analytical term-violence-to take on a scientific precision.
After all, not racism, not sexism, not homophobia, not authori­
tarianism, but violence, must be the critical axis of our actions.
Why would we take pledges of anti-racism before a march, or make par­
ticipation in a movementcontingent on being respectful of women, queer
people, and trans people, when we can take far less divisive pledges of
nonviolence? The likelihood that most supporters of nonviolence
codes have never even asked this question goes a long way toward
demonstrating the limitation of pacifist thinking. So pacifists ig­
nore real divisions such as white privilege and instead make base­
less and potentially racist!classist distinctions between cutting a
lock during a pre-announced demonstration so that protestors
can conduct a die-in on a military base and smashing a window
under cover of a riot so that a ghetto dweller can get food and
money to take care of her family. Significantly, pacifists do not
make the critical distinction between the structural, institutional,
and systemically permitted personal violence of the state (the state
being understood in a broad sense to include the functions of the
economy and patriarchy) and the individualized social violence
of the "criminal" sort or collective social violence of the "revolu­
tionary" sort, aimed at destroying the far greater violence of the
state. Pretending that all violence is the same is very convenient
for supposedly anti-violence privileged people who benefit from
the violence of the state and have much to lose from the violence
of revolution.
I 123 I
NONVlOl£NCEISDI'LUDED
PEfER GaDERLOOS
Sneaking onto a military base, pouring one's blood on things,
and hammering missiles, we are told, is nonviolent, but blowing
up the Litton Systems plant (where cruise missile components were
made) would have been violent even if no one had been injured.
Why? The usual response is either that a bomb threatens people,
whereas old white nuns with hammers do not, or that when activ­
ists use a bomb, they cannot ensure that people will not get hurt.
The first argument ignores two facts: what is considered threaten­
ing is largely determined by preexisting prejudices against certain
races and classes, and to the majority of the world's population
outside North America, a nonfunctioning missile is far less threat­
ening than a functioning missile, no matter how many bombs
had to blow up in the Global North to achieve that end. There is
certainly no doubt that bombing can destroy missiles better than
hammering. The second argument, as I have noted, ignores the
possibility of victims outside of North America. A bomb ensures
that a factory will not be able to produce missiles far better than a
hammer does, and missiles in the possession of imperialist states
kill far more people than bombs (or hammers) in the possession
of urban guerrilla groups. But this consideration is so far from the
minds of pacifists that the nuns to whom I allude based much of
their trial defense on the contention that they had not caused any
real damage, only symbolic damage, to the missile facility they had
infiltrated." Can they lven truly be considered nonviolent, after
deliberately wasting an opportunity to decommission a major
instrument of warfare?
At a workshop I gave on the flaws of nonviolence, I conducted
a little exercise to demonstrate how vague this idea of violence
actually is. I asked the participants, who included supporters
of nonviolence and supporters of a diversity of tactics, to stand
up and, as I slowly read a list of various actions, to walk to one
spot if they considered the action violent, and to another spot
if they considered the action nonviolent. The actions included
such things as buying clothes made in a sweatshop, eating meat,
I 124 I
a wolf killing a deer, killing someone who is about to detonate
a bomb in a crowd, and so on. Almost never was there perfect
agreement among the participants, and several of the actions that
they considered violent they also considered moral, while some
also considered certain nonviolent actions to be immoral. The
concluding lesson of the exercise: Does it really make sense to
base so much of our strategy, our alliances, and our involvement
in activism on a concept that is so blurry that no two people can
really agree on what it means?
Efforts to actually define violence lead to two outcomes. Either
violence is defined literally as something that causes pain or fear,
and it cannot be considered an immoral thing because it includes
natural activities such as giving birth or eating other living be­
ings to stay alive, or violence is defined with a moral concern for
outcomes, in which case inaction or being ineffective in the face
of a greater violence must also be considered violent." Either
definition excludes nonviolence-the first because violence is in­
evitable and normal, and the second because nonviolence must
be considered violent if it fails to end a system of violence, and
also because all privileged people must be considered complicit
in violence whether or not they consider themselves pacifists.
But pacifists still delude themselves into thinking that violence is
sufficiently defined that we can pretend the use of violence has
certain, inevitable psychological consequences.
Todd Allin Morman, writing in Social Anarchism, draws on
Erich Fromm to make a tidy distinction between "rational author­
ity" and "irrational authority." Morman asserts that "anarchism
is against all forms of irrational authority and favors rational
authority in its place."16 Irrational authority is based on holding
power over people, while rational authority is defined as influence
voluntarily granted on the basis of experience and competence.
"[Ijt is impossible to employ violence to promote a higher anar­
chist order because violence necessarily reproduces psychological
attitudes that are antithetical to the ends of anarchist revolution."
I 125 I
rETrRGElDI'RLCXJS
Quite typically, he argues that we should go into revolution peace­
fully, because if we do not, we will only "reconstitut]e] the state
in a new...form." But why is it possible to stop being violent now,
before the revolution, but not afterward! Why are we told that
we would inevitably and powerlessly become authoritarian after
a violent revolution, even as we are encouraged to break the psy­
chological patterns of our violent society and forswear militant
struggle! Morman does not answer how he can see humans de­
terministically at the end of a sentence, while treating humans as
free agents in the beginning of the same sentence. I suspect it is
because academics like Morman are afraid of what would happen
to them if they did not give up militant revolution (which is to give
up on revolution as a whole); instead, they prefer to assert their
"rational authority" and pretend they are contributing to a process
that will somehow make the state obsolete. Of course, our major
theoretical contribution as anarchists is that the state was obso­
lete from its inception, but it holds and gains power nonetheless.
Fromm's syllogism, or at least Morman's interpretation thereof,
misses the point that to an "irrational authority," "rational author­
ity" is irrelevant, meaningless, and powerless.
It seems to me that it would be much easier to end the psycho­
logical patterns of violence and domination once we had destroyed
the social institutions, political bodies, and economic structures
specifically constituted to perpetuate coercive domination. But
proponents of nonviolence boldly sound the call to retreat, declar­
ing that we should treat the symptoms while the disease is free to
spread itself, defend itself, anivote itself pay raises. Morman says,
"Violence is only capable of attacking the physical manifestations
of the social relations that perpetuate the state. One cannot kill
these social relations by a physical assault."17 Leaving aside the fact
that this point is blatantly false in relation to indigenous cultures'
fighting off foreign invasion and imperialism (in which cases,
killing or evicting the colonizer is indeed killing colonialism, if it
can be done before Westernization has taken place), let us accept
I 126 I
NONVlOLENCE ISDff.UDED
Morman's narrow Eurocentrism and focus on societies in which
oppressor and oppressed belong to the same nation or culture. He
has just established that violence can destroy the physical but not
the psychological manifestations of oppression. Any reasonable
person would proceed by recommending a revolutionary struggle
that contains both destructive and creative activities-violence
against the oppressors and their machinery accompanied by si­
multaneous caretaking and healing of one's community. Morman
and the thousands of pacifists who think like him instead declare
that we should focus on psychological liberation while avoiding
physical struggle. How they fail to see the concomitant parallel
to the argument they have just made, that psychological actions
cannot destroy the physical manifestations of the state, is baffling.
Perhaps they believe that the social relationships of oppression are
independent and create the physical structures of oppression out
of whole cloth, but this is simplistic. The social relationships and
physical structures cannot be fully separated (in reality, rather than
in philosophy, for these terms are only analytical devices that make
it easier to talk about different aspects of the same thing), and they
clearly evolve in tandem. Physical structures and social relation­
ships are mutually dependent, and mutually reinforcing.
Morman also holds on to a totalitarian idea of revolution.
"The revolutionary is promoting one set of social relations and
destroying old ones, not by teaching, example, or well-reasoned
argument, but by power, fear, and intimidation: the buttresses of
irrational authorirv.f'" This argument suggests that a nonpacifist
revolution must be waged against people who are philosophically
deviant or politically incorrect-people who believe the wrongthings
(this is how a political party views revolution). But there is more
than one axis for liberation struggle. It can be cultural, to fight for
the expulsion of a foreign colonizer and the bourgeois political
parties that have taken on the characteristics of that colonizer (as
described by Fanon), or it can be structural, to destroy centralized
power structures and hierarchical institutions without targeting
I 127 I
PETI:R GffDER!.OOS NONVIOLENCE ISDFLUDID
any actual people, other than those who choose to fight on the
side of power. After a revolution that destroys all of the structures
of capitalism-seizes all of the factories, redistributes all of the
land, burns all of the money-people who are philosophically capi­
talist need not be purged or intimidated with irrational authority.
Lacking a military apparatus to implement capitalism or a police
apparatus to protect it, they-as people-are quite harmless, and
will either learn to do something creative with their lives or starve
to death without realizing that they can no longer pay someone to
slave for them. Morman's typical pacifist-anarchist construction
relies on a Eurocentric, political vision of revolution, in which
a revolutionary party seizes power and enforces its vision of free­
dom on everyone else in the society through some centralized
apparatus. In fact, it is society itself-as it stands now, an artificial
binding together of people with no noncoerced common interests
in working together-that needs to be destroyed. A militant revo­
lutionary movement can destroy the central gravity of government
that holds together mass polities in a single nation-state. After that
point, we will not need some rational, "well-reasoned" ideology to
hold everyone together, because societies will divide into smaller,
organic units. Revolutionaries will not need to use violence to
convince everyone to behave in a certain way because there will be
no need for conformity across an entire country.
Morman's reasoning is also based on Western cultural as­
sumptions that fail to appreciate any reason for violence not in
the service of domination. These assumptions have much to do
with the inherent totalitarianism of Western culture (which is also
evident in the statist inclinations of pacifism, privileging state vio­
lence while actively ostracizing the violence-of rebellion). The idea
that the use of "violence" automatically constitutes an irrational
authority does not make sense from the perspective of cultural
values that do not necessarily portray violence as a tool in the ser­
vice of domination. According to the Mande, Mangala the creator
killed Farrow as a sacrifice in order to save what was left of ere-
I 128 I
ation, On the contrary, in Greek mythology, Cronus tried to kill
his son, and later Zeus devoured his lover, Metis, to maintain their
power.This dynamic is a pattern throughout Western mythologies.
The use of violence is either calculated, to win power and coercive
control, or impassioned, in which case the motivation is nearly
always jealousy born out of the desire to possess another being.
These patterns are not universal to all cultures.
They are also not universal to all situations. Collective, coordi­
nated violence to establish and enforce a new set of social relations
that must be preserved through violence, or revolution by way of
taking over centralized institutions, does constitute the creation
or preservation of a coercive authority. But these are not the only
two options for social change,.-We have already seen Frantz Fanon
describe violence as a "cleansing force" when used by people ground
down and dehumanized bycolonization to liberate themselves. (And
the dynamics of colonialism apply today to indigenous populations,
to outright colonies from Hawaii to Samoa, and to occupied areas
from Kurdistan to Iraq, while similar dynamics apply to the popula­
tions of the neocolonies of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and
to the "internal colonies" descended from slave populations in the
US. In short, these dynamics still apply to hundreds of millions of
people and are not at all obsolete.) Fanon aided the FLN (National
Liberation Front) in Algeria and worked in a psychiatric hospital,
specializing in the psychologyof the colonized and the psychological
effects of their liberation struggles. In other words, he is somewhat
better positioned than Erich Fromm to evaluate the psychology of
violence in pursuit of liberation from the perspective of the major­
ity of the world's population-not the vantage of an educated politi­
cal party seeking to remake the world in its image, but the vantage
of people subjugated to a system so violent that they can either
forcefully fight back or displace that violence socioparhicallv against
one another. Speaking of colonization and resistance to it, Fanon
writes, "It is a commonplace that great social upheavals lessen the
frequency of delinquency and mental disorders."19
I 129 I
PEm Gfll)ERLOOS
To add to what is becoming a long list, nonviolence is deluded
in repeating that means determine ends, as though never before
has a transformation occurred in which end conditions were fun­
damentally different from the means that brought them about.
After Red Cloud's War in 1866, for example, the Lakota did not
descend into an orgy of violence because they had committed
some moral!psychological transgression by killing white soldiers.
On the contrary, they enjoyed nearly a decade of relative peace and
autonomy until Custer invaded the Black Hills to find gold.
20
But
instead of fitting the means (our tactics) to the situation we face,
we are supposed to make our decisions based on conditions that
are not even present, acting as though the revolution has already
occurred and we live in that better world." This wholesale renun­
ciation of strategy forgets that neither of the lauded figureheads
of nonviolence, Gandhi and King, believed that pacifism was a
universally applicable panacea. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowl­
edged that "[tlhose who make peaceful revolution impossible
only make violent revolution inevitable."22 Given the increased
consolidation of the media (the presumed ally and moralizing tool
of the nonviolent activist
2J
) and the increased repressive powers
of the government, can we really believe that a pacifist movement
could overcome the government on a matter where compromise
was unacceptable to ruling interests?
Closing out the list of common delusions is the all-too-frequent
claim that violence alienates people. This is glaringly false. Violent
video games and violent movies are the most popular. Even bla­
tantly false wars win the support of at least half the population,
often with the commentary that the US military is too humane
and restrained to its enemies. On the other hand, self-righteous
candlelight vigils are alienating to the majority of people who
don't participate, who hurry by and smirk to themselves. Voting
is alienating for the millions of people who know better than to
participate and to some of the many people who participate for
lack of better options. Showing a supposed "love" for "thy enemy"
I 130 I
NONVIOLENCE ISDl'l.UDID
is alienating to people who know that love is something deeper,
more intimate, than a superficial smiley face to be given out to
six billion strangers simultaneouslv," Pacifism is also alienating
to the millions of lower-class Americans who silently cheer every
time a cop or (especially) federal agent gets killed.l' The real ques­
tion is who is alienated by violence, and by what kind of violence?
One anarchist writes:
[E)venif they were, who cares if the middle and upper classes
are alienated by violence? They already had their violent
revolution and we're living in it right now. Further, the whole
notion that the middle and upper classesare alienated byvio­
lence is completely false...they support violence all the time,
whether it is strikebreaking, police brutality, prisons, war,
sanctions or capital punishment. What they really oppose is
violence directed at dislodging them and their privileges.V"
Reckless violence that subjects people to unnecessary risks
without even striving to be effective or successful will most likely
alienate people-especially those who already have to survive under
the violence of oppression-but fighting for survival and freedom
often wins sympathy. I have recently been fortunate enough to
come into correspondence with Black Liberation Army prisoner
Joseph Bowen, who got locked up after the cop who tried to kill
him ended up dead. "Joe-Joe" won the respect of other prisoners
after he and another prisoner assassinated the warden and deputy
warden and wounded the guard commander at Philadelphia's
Holrnesburg Prison in 1973, in response to intense repression
and rellgious persecution. In 1981, when a mass-escape attempt he
helped organize at Graterford Prison was foiled and turned into
a hostage situation, a huge amount of media attention was paid
to the horrible conditions of Pennsylvania's prisons. During the
five-day standoff, dozens of articles came out in the Philadelphia
Inquirer and the national press, shedding light on the prisoners'
grievances and underscoring the fact that these people who had
nothing to lose would continue to fight against the repression and
I 131 I
PETER GEillERlOOS
the bad conditions. Some corporate-media articles were even sym­
pathetic toward joe-joe," and in the end, the government agreed
to transfer a dozen of the rebels to another prison, rather than
storm in shooting-their preferred tactic. In fact, in the aftermath
of the siege, Bowen had so upset the scales of political power that
politicians were on the defensive and had to call for investiga­
tions of conditions at Graterford Prison. In this and many other
examples, including the Zapatistas in 1994 and the Appalachian
miners in 1921, people humanize themselves precisely when they
take up arms to fight against oppression.
Since the first edition of this book came out, I have been
approached by many people who were not activists who told me
how much they appreciated the sentiments herein. While activ­
ists might assume these people are apathetic to the current social
movements because they have never participated, I was told time
and again that they wanted to get involved but didn't know how
because the only organizing efforts they saw revolved around
peaceful protests, which didn't feel inclusive to them and obvi­
ously wouldn't accomplish anything. One working-class man told
me how upon the US invasion of Iraq he jumped in his car and
drove two hours to DC to take part in a protest, knowing no one
else involved. When he arrived and saw a peaceful crowd herded
by the police into a protest cage, he turned right around and drove
home.
The frequent role of nonviolent activists in controlling or
sabotaging revolutionary movements, and their failure to protect
revolutionary activists from state repression, as well as their ap­
peasement with the most hollow of "victories," suggests an ulte­
rior motive to nonviolent activism. It seems to me that the most
common motive is for pacifists to avail themselves of moral high
ground and alleviate the substantial guilt they incur by recogniz­
ing the many systems of oppression they are tied up in but fail to
deal with in a meaningful way. Ward Churchill suggests that white
pacifists wish to protect themselves from repression by consigning
I 132 I
NONVIOl£NCEISDELUDED
their activism to posturing and formulating the social organiza­
tion of a post-revolutionary world while people of color across the
world incur all the fatalities fighting for that world." This is a far
cry from the solidarity role white pacifists imagine themselves to
be playing.
Nonviolent activism targeting the School of the Americas
(SOA) provides a good example. Organizing against the SOA
includes one of the largest sustained campaigns of civil disobe­
dience in recent history, and it has drawn the participation and
support of a number of leading pacifists. During my involvement
with anti-SOA activism, I conceived of the civil disobedience and
prison sentence as a means of demonstrating the farcical and
authoritarian nature of the democratic process, and fostering
the escalation toward a truly revolutionary movement targeting
all aspects of capitalism and imperialism, not just the SOA. How
ridiculous would it be to campaign for the closure of a single
military school when numerous other institutions, indeed the
whole capitalist state structure, work toward the same ends? But
after the conclusion of my prison sentence, I saw that to the paci­
fist majority within the anti-SOA "movement," civil disobedience
was an end in itself, used for leverage in lobbying Congress and
recruiting new participants, and for alleviating privilege-induced
guilt and accessing the moral righteousness of those who have put
their money where their mouth is, so to speak. It enabled them
to claim that, by incurring a relatively easy prison sentence of six
months or less, they were "bearing witness" and "standing in soli­
darity with the oppressed" in Latin America.??
For all its fanfare, nonviolence is decrepit. Nonviolent theory
rests on a large number of manipulations, falsifications, and de­
lusions. Nonviolent practice is ineffective and self-serving. In a
revolutionary sense, not only has nonviolence never worked, it
has never existed. Driving a car, eating meat, eating tofu, paying
) ,
rent, paying taxes, being nice to a cop-all of these are violent
activities.'? The global system and everyone in it are soaked in
I 133 I
PEm GELDERLOOS
violence; it is enforced, coerced, involuntary. For those suffer­
ing under the violence of colonialism, military occupation, or
racial oppression, nonviolence is not always an option-people
must either fight back violently against their oppressor or dis­
place that violence into anti-social violence against one another.
Frantz Fanon writes:
Here on the level of communal organizations we clearly dis­
cern the well-known behavior patterns of avoidance. It is as if
plunging into a fraternal blood-bath allowed them to ignore
the obstacle, and to put off till later the choice, nevertheless
inevitable, which opens up the question of armed resistance
to colonialism. Thus col1ective autodestruction in a very con­
crete form is one of the ways in which the native's muscular
tension is set free."
Peace is not an option until after the centrally organized vio­
lence that is the state is destroyed. Exclusive reliance on building
alternatives-to sustain us, make the state obsolete, and heal us
from this violence to prevent "autodestruction"-is also not an op­
tion, because the state can crush alternatives that cannot defend
themselves. If we were allowed to live the change we wish to see
in the world, there wouldn't be much need for revolution. Our
options have been violently constrained to the following. actively
supporting the violence of the system; tacitly supporting that vio­
lence by failing to challenge it; supporting some of the existing
forceful attempts to destroy the system of violence; or pursuing
new and original ways to fight and destroy that system. Privileged ac­
tivists need to understand what the rest of the world's people have
known all too long: we are in the midst of a war, and neutrality
is not possible.Y There is nothing in this world currently deserv­
ing of the name peace. Rather, it is a question of whose violence
frightens us most, and on whose side we will stand.
, I
I 134 I
7
I have made a number of forceful,
even vitriolic, arguments against
nonviolent activism, and I have not
diluted these arguments. My goal has
been to emphasize criticisms too of­
ten silenced, in order to defenestrate
the stranglehold pacifism has over the
movement's discourse-a stranglehold
exerting such a monopoly over putative
morality and strategic/tactical analysis
in many circles as to preclude even the
THE ALTERNATIVE: acknowledgment of a feasible alterna­
POSSIBILITIES FOR tive. Would-be revolutionaries need
REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM to realize that pacifism is so vapid and
counterproductive that an alternative is imperative. Only then can
we weigh the different paths ofstruggle fairly-and, I hope, in a more
pluralistic, decentralized manner as well-rather than attempting to
enforce a party line or the single correct revolutionary program.
My argument is not that all pacifists are apologists and
sellouts without redeeming merit or a place in a revolutionary
movement. Many pacifists are well-meaning would-be revolution­
aries who have simply been unable to move past their cultural
conditioning, which programs them instinctively to react to as­
saults on, the Godlike state as the highest crime and treason. A
handful of pacifists have shown such a sustained commitment
to revolution and incurred such risks and sacrifices that they
are above the criticisms typically deserved by pacifists, and even
pose a challenge to the functioning of the status quo, particu­
larly when their morals do not prevent them from working in
solidarity with nonpacifist revolutionaries.' The point is that
pacifism as ideology, with pretensions beyond a personal prac­
tice, incerrigibly serves state interests and is hopelessly wrapped
up psychologically with the control schema of the patriarchy and
white supremacy.
I us I
PElIR GELDF.RLOOS
Now that I have demonstrated the need to replace a nonviolent
revolutionary practice, I want to elaborate on what we might replace
it with, as numerous nonpacifist forms of revolutionary struggle
contain their own terminal flaws. In debate, pacifists typically gen­
eralize some broad faults of a few exemplified historical revolutions,
avoid any detailed analysis, and rest their case. But rather than say,
for instance, "See, the violent Russian Revolution led to another
violent and authoritarian government, therefore violence is infec­
tious,'? it would help to point out that all the Leninists wanted was
an authoritarian, red-painted capitalist state with them at the head,
and in their own terms they were quite successful.' We could also
point out the contemporaneous anarchist revolutionaries in south­
ern Ukraine, who consistently refused power and, for years, liber­
ated huge areas from the Germans, the anti-Semitic nationalists,
the Whites, and the Reds-but did not impose their will on those
they liberated, whom they encouraged to self-organize." Further
leaving aside pacifism's mystifying, sweeping analysis, it might do
well to dirty our hands in the historical details and analyze degrees
ofviolence, perhaps by showing that in terms of structural depravity
and state repression, Castro's Cuba, the product of a violent revolu­
tion, is arguably less violent than Batista's Cuba. However, there
are already enough apologists for Castro as to disincline me from
expending my energies in such a manner.
The common element of all of these authoritarian revolutions
is their hierarchical form of organization. The authoritarianism
of the USSR or People's Republic of China was not a mystical
carryover from the violence they used, but a direct function of the
hierarchies to which they were always wed. It is vague, meaning­
less, and ultimately untrue to say that violence always produces
certain psychological patterns and social relationships. Hierarchy,
however, is inseparable from psychological patterns and social
relationships of domination. In fact, most of the violence in soci­
ety that is unarguably wrong stems from coercive hierarchies. In
other words, the concept of hierarchy has most of the analytical
I 136 I
mE ALTERNATlVI:
and moral precision that the concept of violence lacks. Therefore,
to truly succeed, a liberation struggle must use any means nec­
essary that are consistent with building a world free of coercive
hierarchies.
This anti-authoritarianism must be reflected in both the
organization and the ethos of a liberation movement. Organi­
zationally, power must be decentralized-this means no political
parties or bureaucratic institutions. Power should be located
as much as possible in the grassroots-with individuals and in
groups working within a community. Because grassroots and
community groups are confined by real-life conditions and have
constant contact with people outside the movement, ideology
tends to flow upward, concentrating in "national committees"
and other centralized levels of organization {which bring togeth­
er like-minded people steeped in abstraction and removed from
contact with most other folk's everyday realities}, Few things
have more potential for authoritarianism than a powerful ideol­
ogy. Therefore, as much autonomy and decision-making power
as possible must remain at the grassroots. When local groups do
need to federate or otherwise coordinate over a wider geographic
area-and the difficulty of this struggle will require coordination,
discipline, pooling of resources, and common strategy-whatever
organization arises should ensure that local groups do not lose
their autonomy and that whatever higher levels of organization
are created {such as the regional or national committees of a
federation} are weak, temporary, frequently replaced, recallable,
and always dependent on ratification by the local groups. Oth­
erwise, those who fill the higher levels of organization are likely
to develop a bureaucratic mindset, and she organization is likely
to develop interests of its own, which will soon diverge from the
interests of the movement. .
Additionally, no organization should monopolize the move­
ment. Organizations should not be empires; they should be tem­
porary tools that overlap, proliferate, and die out when they are
I 137 I
PETER Gffl)ERLOOS
no longer needed. A movement will be healthier and harder to
co-opt if there is a diversity of groups filling different niches and
pursuing similar purposes.' and these groups will be less prone
to infighting if people within the movement tend to belong to
multiple groups rather than giving their loyalty to a single group.
The culture, or ethos, of the liberation movement is also
vital. Noncoercive structures are easily subverted if the culture
and desires of the people operating those structures draw them
toward other ends. For starters, a culture of liberation must favor
pluralism over monopoly. In terms of struggle, this means we must
abandon the idea that there is only one right way, that we must get
everyone to sign on to the same platform or join the same organi­
zation. On the contrary, the struggle will benefit from a plurality
of strategies attacking the state from different angles. This does
not mean that everyone should work alone or at cross-purposes.
We need to coordinate and unify as much as possible to increase
our collective strength, but we should also reconsider how much
uniformity is actually possible. It is impossible to get everyone to
agree that one strategy for struggle is the best, and indeed this
contention is probably wrong. After all, different people have dif­
ferent strengths and experiences and face different aspects of op­
pression: it only makes sense that there should be different paths
of struggle on which we fight simultaneously toward liberation.
The authoritarian monotheism inherent in Western civilization
would lead us to view these other paths as unintelligent detours,
as competition-we might even try to repress these other tenden­
cies within the movement. Anti-authoritarianism requires that we
abandon this mindset, recognize the inevitability of differences,
and think of people who deviate from us as allies. After all, we are
not trying to impose one new, utopian society on everybody after
the revolution; the goal is to destroy centralized power structures
so each community has the autonomy to organize itself in the way
that all its members collectively decide will best enable them to
meet their needs, while also joining or leaving free associations
I 138 I
TIlEALTERNATIVE
of mutual aid with communities around them." Everyone has an
innate potential for freedom and self-organization; therefore, if we
identify as anarchists, our job is not to convert everyone else to
anarchism, but to use our perspectives and collective experiences
to guard against the co-optation efforts of the institutional Left
and to provide models for autonomous social relationships and
self-organization in cultures where none currently exist.
There is also the question of leadership in an anti-authoritarian
struggle. The traditional idea of leadership, as an institutionalized
or coercive role, as holding power over people, is hierarchical and
inhibitive of people's growth. But it is also true that people are not
equal in terms of abilities, that this revolution will take a tremen­
dous amount of expertise, and that smart, nonegotistical people
will voluntarily place someone with more expertise than others in
a position of noncoercive and temporary leadership. The approach
of an anti-authoritarian ethos toward leadership is that power needs
to be constantly redistributed outwards. It is the responsibility of
people who find themselves in positions ofleadership to lend their
talents to the movement while spreading their leadership around,
teaching other people rather than holding on to their expertise as
a form of power.
Additionally, an anti-authoritarian ethos favors fighting uncom­
promisingly against oppression, but opposes crushing those who
have been defeated; it favors reconciliation over punishment.
With these structures and culture, a liberation movement
has a better chance of succeeding without creating a new
authoritarian system. There will always be a tension between
being effective and being liberating, and in the complexity of
struggle there is plenty of grey space, but it helps to see cultivat­
ing an anti-authoritarian practice as a constant battle between
two requirements (efficiency and freedom) that are conflict­
ing but not mutually exclusive.' The pacifist vision of struggle,
based on a polar dichotomy between violence and nonviolence,
is unrealistic and self-defeating.
I 139 I
PEm GELDERLOOS
More concretely, it is hard to generalize how a liberation
movement using a diversity of tactics should conduct its struggle.
Specific groups need to decide that for themselves based on the
conditions they face-not based on the prescriptions of some ide­
ology. In all likelihood, though, an anti-authoritarian liberation
movement would need to emphasize building an autonomous cul­
ture that can resist the mind control of the corporate media and a
foundation of social centers, free schools, free clinics, community
agriculture, and other structures that can support communities
in resistance. Westernized people also need to develop collective
social relationships. For those growing up in the Global North,
being an anarchist provides no exception to being imbued with
individualistic, punishment- and privilege-based forms of social
interactions. We need to employ working models of restorative
or transformative justice so that we truly don't need police or
prisons. AI:, long as we are dependent on the state, we will never
overthrow it.
Readers may notice that some of the major initial requirements
of a liberation movement do not include "violent" actions. I hope
that by now we can abandon the dichotomy between violence and
nonviolence altogether. The use of violence is not a stage in the
struggle that we must work toward and pass through in order to
win. It does not help to isolate violence. Rather, we must be aware
of certain types of repression we will probably have to face, certain
tactics we will probably have to use. At every stage in the struggle
we must cultivate a militant spirit. Our social centers should hon­
or militant activists in prison, or those killed by the state; our free
schools should teach self-defense and the history of struggle. If we
wait to bring in militancy until the state has increased repression
to the level that it is blatantly obvious that they have declared war
on us, it will be too late. Cultivating militancy should go hand in
hand with preparation and outreach.
It is dangerous to become totally cut off from a mainstream
reality by rushing into tactics that no one else can understand,
I 140 I
mE Ain:RNATIVE
much less support. People who act prematurely and cut themselves
off from popular support will be easy for the government to pick
off.
7
That said, we cannot let our actions be determined by what
is acceptable in the mainstream. The opinions of the mainstream
are conditioned by the state; pandering to the mainstream is pan­
dering to the state. Rather, we must work to escalate militancy, to
educate through exemplary actions, and to increase the level of
militancy acceptable (to at least segments of the population we
have identified as potential supporters). Radicals from a privileged
background have the most work to do in this regard because these
communities have the most conservative reactions to militant
tactics. Privileged radicals seem to be more likely to ask, "What
would society think?" as an excuse for their passivity.
Increasing the acceptance of militant tactics is not easy work,
we must gradually bring people to accept more militant forms of
struggle. If the only choice we can give is between bomb throwing
and voting, almost all of our potential allies will choose voting.
And though more cultural conditioning must be overcome before
people can accept and practice more dangerous, deadly tactics,
such tactics cannot be placed at the top of some hierarchy. Fe­
tishizing violence neither improves a movement's effectiveness
nor preserves its anti-authoritarian qualities.
Because of the nature of the state, any struggle for liberation
will probably eventually become an armed struggle. In fact, a good
many peoples are engaged in armed struggle to liberate them­
selves right now, including the Iraqis, the Palestinians, the Ijaw in
Nigeria, some indigenous nations in South America and Papua
New Guinea, and, to a lesser extent, anti-authoritarian groups in
Greece, Italy, and elsewhere. As I write this sentence, indigenous
activists, anarchists, and unionists armed with just bricks and
clubs are holding the barricades in Oaxaca against an impending
military assault. Several of them have already been killed, and,
as the military strikes again and again, they must decide whether
to escalate tactics to improve their capability for self-defense, at
I 141 I
PETER Gl'l.DffiLOOS
the risk of graver consequences. I won't say that armed struggle
is an ideological necessity, but for many people in many places it
does become a necessity to overthrow, or simply defend against,
the state. It would be wonderful if most people did not have to
go through a process of armed struggle to liberate themselves,
and, given the extent to which economies and governments are
integrated globally these days, a good many governments might
easily collapse if they were already weakened by spreading waves
of global revolt. But some people will have to experience armed
struggle, some have to even now, and it would be unforgivable
if our strategy for revolution banked on the certainty that other
people will die in bloody conflicts while we remain safe.
We must realistically accept that revolution is a social war, not
because we like war, but because we recognize that the status quo is
a low-intensity war and challenging the state results in an intensifi­
cation of that warfare. We must also accept that revolution neces­
sitates interpersonal conflict because certain classes of people are
employed to defend the centralizing institutions we must destroy.
People who continue to dehumanize themselves as agents oflaw and
order must be defeated by whatever means necessary until they can
no longer prevent people's autonomous realization of their needs.
I hope that during this process we can build a culture of respect for
our enemies (a number of non-Western cultures have shown it is
indeed possible to respect a person or animal you must kill), which
will help to prevent purges or a new authority when the present
state has been defeated. For example, it could be seen as acceptable
to kill a more powerful enemy (for instance, someone who must be
targeted clandestinely for fear of state reprisal), unfavorable to kill
someone who is equally powerful (such that it would only be seen as
justified by one's peers in pitched circumstances and self-defense),
and downright immoral and scornful to kill someone weaker (for
instance, someone already defeated).
We can succeed at feasible revolutionary activism by striving
toward undiluted, long-term goals, but we must not forget short-
I 142 I
nm ALTERNATTVE
term victories. In the meantime, people need to survive and be
nourished. And we must recognize that violent struggle against an
extremely powerful enemy in which long-term victory may seem
impossible can lead to small short-term victories. Losing fights can
be better than not fighting at all; fighting empowers people and
teaches us that we can fight. Referring to the defeat at the Battle
of Blair Mountain during the 1921 Mine War in West Virginia,
filmmaker John Sayles writes, "the psychological victory of those
violent days may have been more important. When a colonized
people learn they can fight back together, life can never again be
so comfortable for their exploiters.:"
With enough bold, empowering resistance, we can move
beyond small victories to achieve a lasting victory against the
state, the patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. Revolution
is imperative, and revolution necessitates struggle. There are many
effective forms of struggle, and some of these methods can lead
to the worlds we dream of. To find one of the right paths, we
must observe, assess, criticize, communicate, and, above all,
learn by doing.
I 143 I
INTRODUCTION
e
1. Some periodicals limited to the strictly
anarchist milieu, such as Anarchy: A
Journal of Desire Armed, are not at all
pacifist. However, their influence, and
the influence of their readership, can be
clearly seen as marginal in areas where,
otherwise, anarchists have a major impact.
At mass mobilizations of the anti-war and
anti-globalization movements, in which
anarchists are key organizers, criticisms of
pacifism are not even entertained; at best,
some participants can successfully argue
END NOT E S that watered-down forms of direct action
really do qualify as nonviolent. Media
widely available beyond anarchist circles,
in the way progressive media are somewhat available to the mainstream,
are almost exclusively pacifist, even when many of the volunteers that
keep those media alive are anti-authoritarians who support a diversity of
tactics.
2. Because it may be presumptuous to refer to someone who is not engaged
in open conflict with the state as a revolutionary, I define a revolutionary
activist as someone who, at the least, is building toward the point when
such a conflict is practical. Some people have qualms with the term
activist, or associate it with reformist types of activism. To avoid being
too particular about words and terminology, I will ask readers simply to
receive this term in the best possible way.
CHAPTERONE-NONVIOLENCE ISINEFFECTIVE
1. This particular list comes from an article written by Spruce Houser
(Spruce Houser, "Domestic Anarchist Movement Increasingly Espouses
Violence," Athens News, August 12, 2004, http://athensnews.com/index.
php?action=viewarticle&section=archive&story-id=17497), a peace activist
and self-proclaimed anarchist. I have seen these same putative victories
declared by other pacifists time and again.
2. Hello NYC, 2/15: The Day the World Said No to War (Oakland, CA:
AK Press, 2003). This book gives one a feel for the way peace activists
celebrate these protests.
3. For example, as soon as a pacifist panelist at the anarchist conference
mentioned in the introduction was forced to admit that the civil rights
I 144 I
ENDNOTES
struggle did not end victoriously, he changed directions without blinking
an eye and blamed the struggle's failure on militant liberation movements,
saying that as the movement became violent, it started to lose ground.
This argument ignores the fact that resistance against slavery and racial
oppression was militant well before the late 1960s, and also disavows any
specific analysis that might, say, correspond an increasing militancy with
a decreasing base. Such correlations are factually nonexistent.
4. Chandrasekhar Azad, who was killed in a shootout with the British, is
a focal point of a recent movie, The Last Revolutionary, by Indian director
Priyadarshan.
5. Reeta Sharma, "What if Bhagat Singh Had Lived?" The Tribune of
India, March 21, 2001; http://www.tribuneindia.com/2001/20010321/
edit.htm#6. It is important to note that people across India beseeched
Gandhi to ask for the commutation of Bhagat Singh's death sentence,
given for the assassination of a British official, but Gandhi strategically
chose not to speak out against the state execution, which many believe he
easily could have stopped. Thus was a rival revolutionary removed from
the political landscape.
6. Bose resigned after a conflict with other Indian political leaders,
stemming from Gandhi's opposition to Bose because the latter did not
support nonviolence. For more on Indian liberation struggles, read Sumit
Sarkar, Modern India: 1885-1947 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989).
7. Professor Gopal K, e-mail to author, September 2004. Gopal also writes,
"1 have friends in India who still haven't forgiven Gandhi for this."
8. Though the conservatism inherent in any political establishment
prevented many Euro/American states from seeing this for some time,
neocolonial rule is much more efficient at enriching the colonizer than
direct colonial administration, and more efficient at maintaining power,
once direct colonialism has successfullyeffected the necessary political and
economic reorganization within the colonies. Liberals within the imperialist
states, unfairly characterized as disloyal or unpatriotic, were, in fact, right
on the money when they advocated independence for the colonies. George
Orwell, Ho Chi Minh, and others havewritten about the fiscal inefficiencyof
colonialism. See Ho Chi Minh, "The Failure of French Colonization," in Ho
Chi Minh on Revolution, ed. Bernard Fall (NewYork: Signet Books, 1967).
9. India's neocolonial status is widely documented as part of the
expanding body of anti- and alter-globalist literature. See Arundhati Roy,
Power Politics (Cambridge: South End Press, 2002) and Vandana Shiva,
Stolen Harvest (Cambridge: South End Press, 2000).
I 145 I
ENDNOTES PETER GELDERLOOS
10. The group Direct Action in Canada and the Swiss guerrilla Marco
Camenisch are two examples.
11. See Robert Williams, Negroes with Guns (Chicago: Third World Press,
1962); Kathleen Cleaver and George Katsiaficas, Liberation, Imagination,
and the Black Panther Party (New York: Routledge, 2001); and Charles
Hamilton and Kwame Ture, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in
America (New York: Random House, 1967).
12. "Historical Context of the Founding of the Party," http://www.
blackpanther.org/legacvnew.htm. In 1994, Dr. Kenneth Clark, the
psychologist whose testimony was instrumental in winning the 1954 Brown
v. Boardof EducationSupreme Court decision, stated that segregation was
worse than it had been 40 years prior. Also see Suzzane Goldberg, "US
wealth gap grows for ethnic minorities," The Guardian (UK) October 19,
2004, reprinted in Asheville Global Report, no. 302 (2004) http://www.
agrnews.org/issues/302/nationalnews.html. The Pew Hispanic Center,
analyzing US Census data, recently found that the average white family
has a net worth 11 times greater than that of the average Latino family,
and 14 times greater than that of the average black family, and that the
disparity is growing.
13. Mick Dumke, "Running on Race," ColarLines, Fall 2004, 17-19. This
article was written before Barack Obama's election so I have updated the
figure.
14. "They [the civil rights movement and the black liberation/anti­
colonial movement] rapidly evolved toward armed struggle, with self­
defense leading to armed organizations. Anti-government violence had
mass approval and participation." E. Tani and Kae Sera, False Nationalism,
False Internationalism (Chicago: A Seeds Beneath the Snow Publication,
1985), 94. Also see Mumia Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom (Cambridge:
South End Press, 2004), 32, 65.
15. Flores Alexander Forbes, "Point Number 7: We Want an Immediate
End to Police Brutality and the Murder of Black People; Why I Joined the
Black Panther Party," in Police Brutality:An Anthology,ed. Jill Nelson (New
York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2000), 237.
16. Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom, 31.
17. "[Ijf an oppressed people's pent-up emotions are not nonviolently
released, they will be violently released. So let the Negro march.... For if
his frustrations and despair are allowed to continue piling up, millions
of Negroes will seek solace and security in Black nationalist ideologies."
Martin Luther King [r., quoted in Tani and Sera, False Nationalism, 107.
I 146 I
Martin Luther King Jr. played up the threat ofblack revolutionaryviolence
as the likely outcome if the state did not meet his reformist demands,
and his organizers often capitalized on riots carried out by militant black
activists to put the pacifist black leaders in a more favorable light. See
especially Ward Churchill, Pacifism as Pathology (Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring,
1998),43.
18. Tani and Sera, False Nationalism, 96-104. As King himself said,
"The sound of the explosion in Birmingham reached all the way to
Washington."
19. Ward Churchill, Pacifism as Pathology. Also, for an example, Tani and
Sera, False Nationalism, chapter 6.
20. A pacifist panelist at the North American Anarchist Conference,
rejecting the idea that the Vietnamese resistance, and not the peace
movement, defeated the US, temporarily confused his moral/tactical
position with a racial one by pointing out that it was US troops
assassinating their officers that also led to the end of the war.
21. Tani and Sera, False Nationalism, 124-125. "Project 100,000" was
begun in 1966 at the suggestion of White House adviser Daniel Patrick
Moynihan, who, incidentally, hypothesized that the unemployed men
targeted for military service were "maladapted" because of "disorganized
and matrifocal family life," while Vietnam represented "a world away
from women." (Interestingly, dernonization of strong black women was
eventually insinuated into the Black Power movement itself). Colonel
William Cole, commander of an Army recruiting district, said, "President
Johnson wanted those guys off the street."
22. Tani and Sera, False Nationalism, 127.
23. Matthew Rinaldi, Olive-Drab Rebels: Subversion of the US Armed Forces in
the Vietnam War, rev. ed. (London: Antagonism Press, 2003), 17.
24. Ibid., 11-13.
25. Tani and Sera, False Nationalism, 117-118.
26. It is educational to see how the elite themselves perceived the anti-war
movement. One rich account comes from Secretary of Defense Robert
McNamara in the documentary Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of
Robert S. McNamara, directed by Errol Morris, 2003. McNamara clearly
expressed being troubled by the protests often held outside his workplace,
but with the typical arrogance of a bureaucrat assumed the public didn't
know enough to make policy suggestions. He believed that he too wanted
peace, and as a leading government expert he was thus working in the
interests of the anti-war protestors.
I 147 I
PETER GELDERLOOS
ENDNOTES
27. "Millions Give Dramatic Rebuff to US War Plans," News, United for
Peace and Justice, http';/www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=1070
(accessed October 5, 2006). Originally published by Agence France­
Presse, February 16, 2003.
28. Excluding Al Sharpton, who was treated (as always) as a pariah.
29. Sinikka Tarvainen, "Spain's Aznar Risks All for a War in Iraq,"
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 11, 2003.
30. Not only were commentators nearly unanimous in attributing the
shift of power directly to the bombings, the Spanish government itself
acknowledged the impact of the bombings by ttying to cover up Al-Qaida
involvement, instead blaming ETA Basque separatists. Members of the
government knew that if the bombings were connected in the public
mind to Spanish participation in the Iraq occupation, they would lose in
the polls, as they did.
31. Ward Churchill, in using the example of the Holocaust to demonstrate
the pathology of pacifism in the face of oppression, cites Raul Hilberg,
The Destruction of the European Jews, (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1961) and
Isaiah Trunk, Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe Under Nazi
Occupation (New York: Macmillan, 1972). Churchill's own contributions
to the topic, which informed my own, can be found in Churchill, Pacifism
as Pathology, 31-37. He also recommends Bruno Bettleheirri's Foreword to
Miklos Nyiszli, Auschwitz (New York: Fawcett Books, 1960).
32. The example of the Danes during the Holocaust was used by pacifist
anarchist Colman McCarthy at his workshop "Pacifism and Anarchism" at
the National Conference on Organized Resistance, American University
(Washington, DC), February 4, 2006.
33. Yehuda Bauer, They Chose Life:Jewish Resistance in the Holocaust (New
York: The American [ewish Committee, 1973) 32, 33.
34. Ibid., 21.
35. Ibid., 36.
36. For example, on a listserv of former "prisoners of conscience" with
School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), a group that has conducted one
of the longest-running campaigns of nonviolent civil disobedience against
US foreign policy, one veteran pacifist suggested that if the military was
placing more resttictions on protesting outside an Army base that had
been targeted by demonstrations, we were doing something wrong, and
should take a step back. The same person, representative of a large trend
within US pacifism, also objected to calling a protest a "march" instead of
a walk (although he claimed to uphold the legacy of King and Gandhi).
I 148 I
~
, . ~ ' ,
37. Bauer, They Chose Life, 45.
38. Ibid., 39-40.
39. Ibid., 39 (regarding Kovno), 41 (regarding France).
40. Ibid., 47-48.
41. Ibid., 50.
42. Ibid., 52-53.
43. Ibid., 53-54.
44. One example of the mere threat of popular violence creating change
comes from the American Indian Movement (AIM), in Gordon, Nebraska
in 1972. An Oglala man, Raymond Yellow Thunder, had been killed by
white people whom police refused to arrest (this was a relatively common
occurrence). His relatives, fed up with the apathy of the government,
called in AIM. Thirteen hundred angry Indians occupied the town of
Gordon for three days, threatening: "We've come here to Gordon today to
secure justice for American Indians and to put Gordon on the map ...and
if justice is not immediately forthcoming, we'll be back to take Gordon
off the map." [Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, Agents of Repression:
The FBI's Secret WarsAgainst the Black Panther Party and theAmerican Indian
Movement (Cambridge: South End Press, 1990), 122.] Promptly, the two
murderers were arrested, a cop was suspended, and local authorities made
some effort to end discrimination against Indians.
CH.AP'ffR lWQ-NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST
1. See, for example, Malcolm, X, "Twenty Million Black People in a
Political, Economic, and Mental Prison," in Malcolm X: The Last Speeches,
ed. Bruce Perry (New York: Pathfinder, 1989),23-54.
2. In one conversation I had with a pacifist Mandela was held up
as an exemplary person of color and abandoned just as quickly when
I mentioned Mandela's embrace of armed struggle. [Detailed in his
autobiography: Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography
of NelsonMandela (Boston: Little, Brown, 1995»).
3. Jack Gilroy, e-mail, January 23, 2006. This particular e-mail was the
culmination of a rather sordid conversation on the listserv of a white pacifist
group, duringwhich participants discusseda suggestedcivilrights-style march
through the heart of the blackSouth. One person suggestedcallingit a "walk"
instead of a "march," because "march" constitutes "violent language." Gilroy
asserted, "Of course we are claiming the mantle of Dr. King!"This latter was
in response to a criticism made by a black activist, who said that by holding
such a march (it wassupposed to start in Birminghamor another cityof equal
I 149 I
PETER GELDERLOOS
symbolism), they were co-opting King's legacyand would probably offend
and alienate black people (given that the organization was predominantly
white, downplayed race in its analysis, and focused on oppression occurring
abroad while missing, for instance, the fact that the civil rights movement is
stillcontinuing at home). The white peaceveteran responded in an extremely
condescending and insulting way to the criticism, even calling the black
activist "boy" and claiming that the pacifist movement was so white because
people of color "have not listened, have not taught when they have learned,
have not preached from their pulpit ...have not been able to connect to our
movement to bring justice to all people of Latin America-which includes
millions of people of color." He finished off the same e-mailbyinsisting that
the fight against injustice "has no color bar."
4. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King [r., interview by Alex Haley, Playboy,
January 1965. http://www.playboy.com/arts-entertainment/features/
mlk/index.html.
5. Malcolm X, quoted in Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom, 41. For more of
Malcolm X's then-crucial analysis, see George Breitman, ed., Malcolm X
Speaks (New York: Grove Press, 1965).
6. Tani and Sera, FaLse Nationalism, 106.
7. Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom, 262.
8. Allegations of government involvement in Malcolm X's assassination
are convincingly presented by George Breitman, Herman Porter, and
Baxter Smith in The Assassination of Malcolm X (New York: Pathfinder
Press, 1976).
9. Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, The COINTELPRO Papers;
Documents /rom the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United Srares
(Cambridge: South End Press, 1990).
10. 1know that personally, despite being interested in history and taking
advanced placement US history classes throughout my years in some of
the better public schools in the nation, I graduated high school knowing
little about Malcolm X, other than that he was an "extremist" black
Muslim. However, as early as elementary school, 1knew quite a bit about
Martin Luther King Jr. To be fair, Malcolm X is as important, if not mote
important, a figure to the civil rights and black liberation movements as
King. In subsequent years, my political education in progressive white
circles failed to correct either the white-out of Malcolm X or the misleading
hagiography of King. It was only upon reading in black activists' writings
of the importance of Malcolm X that I did the necessary research.
11. Darren Parker, e-mail, July 10, 2004.
I 150 I
I:NDNOTfS
12. Consider the popularity, for instance, of the following quote: "What
these white people do not realize is that Negroes who riot have given up
on America. When nothing is done to alleviate their plight, this merely
confirms the Negroes' conviction that America is a hopelessly decadent
society." Martin Luther King [r., "A Testament of Hope" in James Melvin
Washington, ed., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin
Luther King, Jr. (San Francisco; Harper & Row, 1986),324.
13. This sentiment, though it has been expressed by many different people,
comes to me most directly from Roger White, Post Colonial Anarchism
(Oakland: Jailbreak Press, 2004). White primarily addresseswhite anarchists'
frequent tendency to shun national liberation movements for not conforming
to a particular anarchist ideology. The dynamic issimilar to the one createdby
pacifism, which I describe, and both are more functions of whiteness than any
particular ideology. Pacifism has been one stumbling block that has allowed
white radicals to control or sabotage liberation movements, but it is by no
means the only one. White's book is worth a read, precisely because militant
white anarchists encounter many of the same problems as white pacifists.
14.Tani and Sera, FaLse Nationalism, 134-137.
15. Ibid., 137-161.
16.Abu-Jamal, WeWant Freedom, 7.
17. Personal e-mail to author, December 2003.
18.David Cortright, "The Power of Nonviolence," The Nation, February 18,
2002, http://www.rhenation.com/doc/20020218/cortright.This article
attributes a one-word quote to Cesar Chavez, but it is left to white pacifists
to explain the meaning and implementation of nonviolent strategies.
19. Bob Irwin and Gordon Faison, "Why Nonviolence? Introduction to
Theory and Strategy," Vernal Project, 1978, http://www.vernalproject.
org/OPapers/WhyNV/WhyNonviolence l.html.
20. Staughton Lvnd and Alice Lynd, Nonviolence inAmerica: A Documentary
History (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1995).
21. Quotes from white organizers at the time, in Ward Churchill, Pacifism
as Pathology. 60-62.
22. Art G ish, "Violence/Nonviolence" (panel discussion, North American
Anarchist Conference, Athens, OH, August 13, 2004).
23. Tani and Sera, FaLse Nationalism, WI - 102.
24. Belinda Robnett, How Long! How Long!African-American Women in the
Struggle far Civil Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 184- 186.
I 151 I
PETER GELDERLOOS
25. Kristian Williams, Our Enemies in Blue (Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press,
2004),87.
26. Ibid., 266.
27. Keith McHenry, e-mail, international Food Not Bombs listserv, April
20,2006.
r.
28. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, .i!
I
i/
1963),86.
29. Ibid., 94.
30. Darren Parker, e-mail, July 10, 2004.
31. Churchill and Vander Wall, Agentsof Repression, 188. ~
32. Some of the most dedicated nonviolent activists in the US have faced
torture and murder in the course of Latin American solidarity work. But this
isnot quite the same thing as what activistsof color face within the US, given
that these white activists have faced violence in a situation they sought out
}
rather than one imposed on them, their families, and their communities. It
is, after all, much easier to have a martyr complex for oneself than for one's I
family (which is not to saythat all of these activistswere motivated bysuch a
~
complex, though I have certainly met a fewwho cash in that risk to claimthat J.
they have experienced oppression rivaling that felt by people of color).
33. Churchill, Pacifism as Pathology, 60-61.
34. David Gilbert, No Surrender: Writings from an Anti-Imperialist Political
Prisoner (Montreal: Abraham Guillen Press, 2004),22-23.
35. Alice Woldt, quoted in Chris McGann, "Peace Movement Could Find
Itself Fighting Over Tactics," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 21, 2003,
http://seatrlepi.nwsource.com/locaV109590_peacemovement21.shtml.
36. E-mail to author, October 2004. This same activist paternalistically
rewrote the history of black liberation to declare that the Black Panthers
did not advocate violence. In the same e-mail, he quoted from Sun Tzu's
Art of War to bolster his case and improve his tactical sophistication.
Whether Sun Tzu would have agreed with his theories' being used in an
argument for the efficacy of pacifism is questionable.
37. E-mail to author, October 2004.
38. David Dellinger, "The Black Rebellions," in Revolutionary Nonviolence:
- I . . ~ .
Essays by David Dellinger (New York: Anchor, 1971), 207. In the same
, ~ '
essay, Dellinger admits that "there are occasions when those who act
01
nonviolently themselves must become reluctant allies or critical supporters
: ~
of those who resort to violence."
; ~
I 152 I
ENDNOTES
39. Gilbert, No Surrender, 23.
40. Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom, 76.
41. Belinda Robnett points out that by becoming more militant and
adopting a Black Power ideology, previously nonviolent groups such as
SNCC "led liberal financial supporters [presumably mostly white] to stop
contributing." This loss of mainstream funding led in part to the collapse
of the organization (Robnett, How Long? 184- 186). Robnett, however,
equates the abandonment of nonviolence with machismo. Reflecting her
academic status (as a sociology professor in the University of California
system), she blurs the line between FBI-paid provocateurs advocating sexism
within the movement (for example, Ron Karenga) and legitimate activists
advocating increased militancy, or legitimate activists who did, in fact,
confuse militancy with machismo. She also mentions that Angela Davis
complained about being criticized by militant black nationalists "for doing
a 'man's job'" (Robnett, How Long? 183), but she neglects to mention that
Davis was highly influential in advocating militant struggle. Robnett also
seems to neglect mentioning how problematic it is when groups with such
radical agendas as racial equality are not self-sustaining and instead rely on
the support of the federal government and white donors.
CHAPrER THREE-NONVIOLENCE IS STATIST
1. On February 9, 2006, a member of the nonviolent group SOA Watch
(which attracts support from a range of groups, from progressives to
anarchists) suggested on an e-mail list that because police had been dealing
with the annual demonstration outside Fort Benning in Georgia more
aggressively in recent years, the group should move the demonstration
into some public place awayfrom the military base to avoid confrontation.
He wrote, "Wherever polarization takes place, it's time, in my opinion,
for the peace campaign to re-evaluate its tactics. Relationships are at the
core of peacemaking. 'We' and 'Them' can lead ultimately to war. 'Us'
has a better chance for achieving negotiable (nonviolent) solutions and
can lead ultimately to a culture of peace."
2. In one recent example, flyers being passed out by the thousands at the
protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention claimed that
anyone advocating violence was likely a police agent.
3. Churchill and Vander Wall, Agentsof Repression, 94-99, 64- 77. In the case
of Jonathan Jackson, it seems that the FBI and police instigated the entire
plot in an attempt to assassinate the most militant California Panthers.
They encouraged a hostage-taking at the Marin County courthouse, but
only because they were prepared with a large team of sharpshooters ready
I 153 I
PETI'R GELDERLOOS
to neutralize the militants. Yet "not taking the bait" (this phrase is used
as though all advocates of militancy are provocateurs-a dangerous, and
potentially violent, charge that has been leveled against many) will not
keep anyone safe. FBI informer William O'Neal encouraged the Illinois
Panthers, whom he had infiltrated, to take part in such bizarre plots as
obtaining nerve gas or an airplane to bomb city hall. When they would
not, the FBI went ahead and assassinated Panther leadet Fred Hampton
anyway.
4. Two good books about the COINTELPRO repression ate Churchill
and Vander Wall's Agents of Repression and Abu-Jamal's We Want Freedom.
On similar repression abroad, read William Blum, Killing Hope: US
Military and CIA Interventions sinceWorld WarII (Monroe, Maine: Common
Courage Press, 1995).
5. The repression of the ELF, termed the "Green Scare," and the
imprisonment of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) activists
were widely reported in radical and environmental media. See, for
example, Brian Evans, "Two ELF Members Plead Guilty to 2001 Arson,"
Asheville Global Report, no. 404 (October 12, 2006): http://www.agrnews.
org/?section=archives&caUd=48&article_id=1296; and "The SHAC 7,"
http://www.shac7.com/case.htm.
6. A May 3, 2006, search of the archives of two leftist, nonmilitant
independent-media websites, Common Dreams and AlterNet, revealed
the predicted disparity. I searched for two phrases, the "Thomas Merton
Center" and "Filiberto Ojeda Rios." The first search for the Thomas
Merton Center for Peace and Justice, one of the targets of a relatively
nonintrusive campaign through which the FBI surveilled peace groups, as
revealed by ACLU investigations early in 2006, brought up 23 articles on
Common Dreams and five on AlterNet. The search on Filiberro Ojeda
Rios, a former leader of the Macheteros, a group within the Puerto Rican
independence movement, who was assassinated by the FBI on September
23, 2005, brought up one article on Common Dreams and zero on
AherNet. Although few people on the mainland showed any concern, tens
of thousands of Puerto Ricans marched in San Juan to protest the killing.
Those two websites contained considerably fewer articles on the waves of
violent FBI raids against Puerto Rican independence activists occurring in
February 2006 than on the revelation, publicized at about the same time,
that the FBI in Texas was spying on the predominantly white group Food
Not Bombs as part of its counterterrorism activities. For coverage of the
spying on the white peace activists, see "Punished for Pacifism," Democracy
Now, Pacifica Radio, March 15, 2006. For covet age of the FBI assassination
I 154 I
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J
t
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ENDNOlB
and subsequent raids in Puerto Rico, see the "September 30
th
Newshriefs"
(2005) and "February 28
th
Newsbriefs" (2006) on SignalFire, www.signalfire,
org. Both events were covered by Indymedia Puerto Rico (for example, CMI­
PR, "Fuerza Bruta Imperialista Allana Hogar de Cornpanera, Militantes
Boricuas le Dan 10 Suyo," Indymedia Puerto Rico, February 10, 2006,
http://pr.indymedia.org/news/2006/02/13197.php).
7. Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom, 262-263,
8. Churchill and Vander Wall, Agents of Repression, 364,
9. Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Intelligence BulletinNo. 89 (October
IS, 2003). Available online at http://www.signalfire.org/resources/
FBImemo. pdf.
10, Ibid.
11. Greg White, "US Military Planting Stories in Iraqi Newspapers,"
Asheville Global Report, no. 360 (December 7, 2005): http://www.agrnews.
org/?section=archives&caUd=1O&article_id=194.
12. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 61-62.
13. William Cran, "88 Seconds in Greensboro," Frontline, PBS, January
24, 1983.
14. "American Legion Declares War on Peace Movement," Democracy
Now, Pacifica Radio, August 25,2005. At the American Legion's national
convention in 2005, the 3-million-strong organization voted to use
whatever means necessary to end "public protest" and ensure "the united
backing" of the US population for the War on Terror.
15. During and after World War I, the American Legion was an
important paramilitary force in helping the government repress anti-war
activists and labor organizers, particularly the Wobblies (IWW, Industrial
Workers of the World). In 1919, in Centralia, Washington, they castrated
and lynched Wesley Everest of the IWW.
16. Glenn Thrush, "Protest a 'Privilege,' Mayor Bloomberg Says," NY
Newsday, August 17, 2004, http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.
php?id=2557. Commenting on the protests against the 2004 Republican
National Convention in NYC, Mayor Bloomberg called free speech
a privilege that can be taken away if abused. There are numerous other
incidents of officials being so candid, and a whole history of episodes
involving the government's denial of free speech and other civil and human
rights when they interfered with the smooth functioning of authority.
17. This includes legislated restrictions of "free speech," from the Alien
and Sedition Acts of the 18
th
century to the Espionage Act of World War
I 155 I
PETER GflDERLOOS
I; institutional powers such as the ability of governors or the president to
declare martial law, or the emergency powers of FEMA and other agencies;
and discretionary activities such as the surveillance and neutralization
activities of the FBI under COINTELPRO or the USA PATRIOT Act.
18. Jennifer Steinhauer, "Just Keep It Peaceful, Protesters; New York Is
Offering Discounts," New York Times, August 18, 2004, http://www.
nytimes.com/2004/08/18/nyregion/18buttons.html?ex=1250481600&
en =fab5ec7c870bb 73a&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland.
19. Allan Dowd, "New Protests as Time Runs Out for WTO," The Herald
(Glasgow), December 3, 1999, 14.
20. Cortright, "The Power of Nonviolence." I came across this article as a
photocopy distributed and praised by a self-identified anarchist pacifist.
21. Churchill and Vander Wall, Agents of Repression, 281-284.
22. Ibid., 285.
23. Some might argue that a revolutionary movement that was misogynistic
or racist could not use the right of self-determination as an excuse. The
obvious counterarguments are that a) equating self-defense with misogyny
or racism hardly amounts to a moral stance, and b) viewing violence as an
immoral, chosen activity is simplistic and inaccurate. Submitting to the
violence of oppression is at least as repugnant as killing one's oppressors
(if our morality requires us to view killing enslavers as repugnant), and
nonviolent privileged people benefit from, and are thus complicit in, the
violence of oppression. Thus, the pretension that pacifists can justifiably
condemn the violence of oppressed people with whom they might
otherwise ally themselves is both silly and hypocritical.
24. Irwin and Faison, "Why Nonviolence?" 7,9.
25. Cortright, "The Power of Nonviolence."
26. To read more on the evolution of the state's view of social control, see
Williams, Our Enemies in Blue.
27. There were some minor instances of fighting back against police,
but it was all in retreat. Anarchists had internalized the idea that only
police could initiate violence, so if they did fight, it was only on the
run. For a good compilation of information on the anti-FTAA protests
in Miami, especially with regard to the traumatizing effects on many
protestors, see The Miami Mode!: A Guide to the Events Surrounding the
FTAA Ministerial in Miami, November 20-21, 2003 (Decentralized
publication and distribution, 2003). For more information, write to
theresonlynow@hotmail.com.
I 156 I
~
:1
'i,/.
.I!
ENDNOlB
28. Wolfi Landstreicher, "Autonomous Self-Organization and Anarchist
Intervention," Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, no. 58 (Fall-Winter
2004): 56. The two following quotes in the paragraph are from the
same page. Landstreicher recommends Albania: Laboratory of Subversion
(London: Elephant Editions, 1999). Available online at http://www.
endpage.com/ Archives/Mirrors/Class_AgainscClass/albania. html.
29. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 124.
CHAPTER fOUR-NONVIOLENCE ISPATRIARCHAL
1. For more on patriarchy, I highly recommend the works of bell hooks, as
well as Kate Bornstein (for example, Gender Outlaw) and Leslie Feinberg
(for example, Transgender Warriors). Also, from a historical, anthropological
approach, Gerda Lerner's The Creation of Patriarchy (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1986) has good information, though Lerner largely
limits herself to a binary perspective of gender, accepting two gender
categories as natural, and thus missing the first and most important step
in the creation of patriarchy, which is the creation of two rigid gender
categories. Interesting information correcting this omission can be found
in Moira Donald and Linda Hurcombe, eds., Representations of Gender
from Prehistory to Present (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000).
2. The latter strategy has been applied successfully by numerous anti­
authoritarian societies throughout history, including the Igbo of present­
day Nigeria. For that example, see Judith Van Allen, "'Sitting on a
Man,' Colonialism and the Lost Political Institutions of Igbo Women,"
Canadian Journal of African Studies, vol. 2, (1972): 211-219.
3. For more on restorative justice, a "needs-based" form of dealing with
social harm through healing and reconciliation (thus, a concept of justice
suited for dealing with the many "crimes" that are rooted in patriarchy),
see Larry Tifft, Batteringof Women: The Failure of Intervention and the Case
for Prevention (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993) and Dennis Sullivan and
Larry Tifft, Restorative Justice: Healing the Foundations of Our Everyday Lives
(Monsey, NY: Willow Tree Press, 2001).
4. bell hooks presents a more complex analysis, dealing also with the
violence of women, in several books including The Will to Change:
Men, Masculinity, and Love (New York: Atria Books, 2004). However,
the women's violence that hooks discusses is not a political, conscious
violence directed against the agents of patriarchy, but, rather, an
impulsive displacement of abuse aimed at children and others lower
in the social hierarchy. This is one example of a true cycle of violence,
which pacifists assume to be the only form of violence. And while all
I 157 I
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PETERGflDERLOOS
traumatic forms of violence cycle (that is, have successive ramifications
as people maladaptively react to the trauma of the initial violence),
revolutionary activists argue that all violent hierarchies are held together
by systematic deployments of downward violence, the originators of
which should and must be incapacitated. The world is not a level playing
field on which violence rebounds consistently, evenly originating from
and affecting people who are equal in power and responsibility. To
be more specific, if women organized collectively to forcefully attack
and oppose rapists, specific rapes would be prevented, the trauma of
past rapes would be exorcised in a constructive and empowering way,
men would be denied the option of raping with impunity, and future
rapes would be discouraged. Or, for another example, urban blacks
and Latinos who carry out guerrilla attacks against police would not
encourage a cycle of police violence. Police do not kill people of color
because they have been traumatized by past violence; they do so because
the white supremacist system requires it and because they are paid to.
Revolutionary activity will, of course, result in increased state repression,
but that is an obstacle that must be surpassed in the destruction of the
state, which is the greatest purveyor of violence. After the destruction
of the state, of capitalism, and of patriarchal structures, people will still
be traumatized, will still have authoritarian and patriarchal viewpoints,
but individual problems that are not structurally reinforced can be
addressed in cooperative, nonviolent ways. Armies cannot be.
5. For example, Robin Morgan, The Demon Lover: On the Sexuality of
Terrorism (New York: W.W. Norton, 1989). The Rock Block Collective's
pamphlet, Stick it to the Manarchy (Decentralized publication and
distribution, 2001), makes valid criticisms against machismo in white
anarchist circles, but suggests that militancy itself is macho, and that
women, people of color, and other oppressed groups are somehow too
fragile to participate in violent revolution.
6. Laina Tanglewood, "Against the Masculinization of Militancy," quoted
in Ashen Ruins, Against the Corpse Machine: Defininga Post-Leftist Anarchist
Critique of Violence (Decentralized publication and distribution, April
2002). Full text available at http://www.infoshop.org/rants/corpse_last.
hrml,
7. Ibid.
8. Sue Daniels, e-mail, September 2004. For more on women's self­
defense, Daniels recommends Martha McCaughey, Real Knockouts: The
Physical Feminism of Women's Self-Defense (New York: New York University
Press, 1997).
I 158 I
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ENDNOTES
9. The Will to Win! Women and Self-Defense is an anonymous pamphlet
distributed by Jacksonville Anarchist Black Cross (4204 Herschel Street,
#20, Jacksonville, FL 32210).
10. The staid pacifist dictum that "change must come from within" is
not to be confused with self-criticism. Functionally, such a philosophy
only incapacitates people from challenging the system and fighting
structural oppressions; it is analogous to the Christian notion of sin, as
a barrier to rebellion and other collective action against oppression. In
the few instances that the "change from within" principle means more
than a simple commitment to nonviolence, it is an impotent form of self­
11I1
i,,1
Iii!
improvement that pretends social oppressions are the result of widespread
personality failures that can be overcome without the removal of external
forces. The self-improvement of anti-oppression activists, on the other
hand, is an admission that the external forces (that is, the structures of
oppression) influence even those who fight against them. Thus, dealing
with the effects is a fitting complement to fighting the causes. Rather than
act as a complement, pacifist self-improvement tries to be a replacement.
11. "Be the change you wish to see in the world" or "Embody the ::1111
change..." are common pacifist slogans that can be found on at least a
couple of placards at any major peace protest in the US.
12. Personal e-mail to author, December 2003.
13. Cortright, "The Power of Nonviolence."
14. Robnett, How Long? 87, 166,95.
15. The story of Bayard Rustin's having to leave the SCLC because Rustin
was gay can be found in Jervis Andersen, Bayard Rustin: The Troubles I've
Seen(New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997) and in David Dellinger,
From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter (New York: Pantheon
Books, 1993).
16. However, people whose strategy relies on the formation of parties or
similar centralized organizations, whether revolutionary or pacifist, also
have an interest in muting self-criticism. But revolutionary activists of
today demonstrate a marked trend away from political parties, unions,
and other organizations that develop an ego, orthodoxy, and interest of
their own.
17. Robnett, How Long? 93-96.
18. Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom, 161.
19. Ibid., 159.
20. Ibid.
I 159 I
PEm Gl'LDERLCXlS
21. Julieta Paredes, "An Interview with Mujeres Creando," in Quiet
Rumours: An Anarcha·Feminist Reader, ed. Dark Star Collective (Edinburgh:
AKPress, 2002), III-II2. f
22. Leslie Feinberg, "Leslie Feinberg Interviews Sylvia Rivera," Workers
Worla, July 2, 1998, http://www.workers.org/ww/1998/sylvia0702.php.
23. Ann Hansen, Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla, (Toronto:
Between The Lines, 2002), 471.
24. Emma Goldman, "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," in Quiet
Rumours, ed. Dark Star Collective, 89.
25. Paul Avrich, Anarchist Portraits(Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1988),218.
26. Yael, "Anna Mae Haunts the FBI," Earth First! Journal, July-August
2003: 51.
27. Ibid.
28. "Interview with Rote Zora,' in Quiet Rumours, ed. Dark Star Collective,
102.
29. Ibid., 105.
30. For the sexism of the Weather Underground, see Tani and Sera, False
Nationalism; and Dan Berger, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground
and the Politics of Solidarity (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2005). For the Red
Brigades' opposition to feminism, which they denounced wholesale as
bourgeois rather than embracing its radical edges, see Chris Aronson Beck
et aI., "Strike Oneto EducateOneHundred": The Rise of the RedBrigades in Italy
in the 1960s-1970s (Chicago: Seeds Beneath the Snow, 1986).
31. Carol Flinders, "Nonviolence: Does Gender Matter?" Peace Power: Journal
of Nonviotenee and Conflict Transformation, vol. 2, no. 2 (summer 2006); http://
www.calpeacepower.org/0202/gender.htm. Flinders uses this exact example
of Gandhi, even praising the innate pacifism of "devout Hindu wives."
32. Ibid.
33. For those unfamiliar with the term, something that is "gender­
essentializing" assumes that gender is not a social construct or even a
useful though imperfect division, but a set of inherent categories with
unchanging and even deterministic essences.
34. Flinders, "Nonviolence: Does Gender Matter?"
35. Patrizia Longo, "Feminism and Nonviolence: A Relational Model,"
The Gandhi Institute, http://www.gandhiinstitute.org!NewsAndEvents/
upload/nonviolence%20and%20relational%20feminism%20Memphis
I 160 I
I;NDNOTES
%202004.pdf#search=%22feminist%20nonviolence%22.
36. "Feminism and Nonviolence Discussion," February and March
1998, http://www.h-net.org/- women/threads/disc-nonviolence.html
(accessed October 18, 2006).
CHAPTER FIVE-NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &' SlRATEGICAllY
I
INPERlOR
1. I have encountered this same formulation from at least three different
nonviolent activists, including young environmentalists and old peace
activists. I do not know if they all got the idea from a similar source or if I
they came up with it independently, but this glorification of capitulation
certainly arises logically from their position.
III
2. Stephen Bender provides this extract from Bernays's book in his article
"Propaganda, Public Relations, and the Not-So-New Dark Age," liP,
II' ,.1
winter 2006: 25.
',1.1
3. Ibid., 26.
4. For more on the propaganda theory of media, see Noam Chomsky and
Edward Herman, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass
Media(New York: Pantheon Books, 1998) and Noam Chomsky, Necessary
Illusions (Boston: South End Press, 1989). As the Iraqi insurgency grew in
the months after President Bush declared major combat operations over,
a number of CIA officials and Pentagon brass began defecting, publicly
making statements that can be divided into three themes, all obviously
centered around concerns of US hegemony: the invasion was poorly
prepared, it is hurting our image abroad, or it is stretching our military
to a breaking point.
S. Anyone familiar with independent media should know of several
examples of both independent and pirate radio stations' being shut down
by the FCC (as well as federal criminalization of independent radio in
the last few years, leading to an expansion of what is considered "pirate").
For articles detailing individual cases of government repression of these
radio stations see: "Pirate Radio Station Back On San Diego Airwaves,"
Infoshop News, January 6, 2006 and Emily Pyle, "The Death and Life of
Free Radio," The Austin Chronicle, June 22, 2001. There is also the well­
known fight between KPFA and Pacifica Radio, in which the corporate
owner was the proxy repressor for the state.
6. Indymedia has been a primary target for this repression. The
archive of the central Indymedia site (www.indymedia.org) probably
contains the most comprehensive documentation of state repression of
I 161 I
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PETCRGELDERLOOS
various Indymedia sites across the globe. In the US, Sherman Austin,
anarchist webmaster of the successful revolutionary site Raise the Fist,
was imprisoned for one year on bogus charges. As of this writing, he
is on probation and prohibited from using the internet. The federal
government shut down his website.
7. Kalle Lasn's Culture Jam (New York: Quill, 2000) is flagrant in the
reckless optimism with which it assumes that the dissemination of simple
ideas can change society.
8. Unlike the state socialist media of the USSR, which enjoyed little
credibility among its own cynical population, corporate media must
be a total media system that enjoys the illusion of being above political
propaganda. So if people on their way to work see a peaceful protest
but hear nothing of that peaceful protest on the news, nothing is amiss.
People outside the movement need little convincing that such a protest is
irrelevant to them; thus, news editors can pretend they are responding to
the demands of their audience. But if people on their way to work see a
riot, or find out that a bomb has exploded outside a bank, and they can
find no references to these occurrences in the mainstream media, they
will be inclined to look elsewhere and to question what else the media
is hiding. One of the reasons the corporate democratic system is a more
effective totalitarian model than the one-party authoritarian state is that
it has to respond to emergencies rather than ignore them.
9.Russian anarchists around the time of the 1905 revolution funded their
massive propaganda drives and agitationalleafletting with expropriations­
armed robberies of the owning class. Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists
(Oakland: AK Press, 2005), 44-48, 62. By combining education with
militant tactics, otherwise impoverished people were able to buy printing
presses and reach a mass audience with anarchist ideas.
10. John Tutino, From Insurrection to Rello!ution in Mexico: Socia! Bases
of Agrarian Violence, 1750-1940 (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1986),6.
11. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 61.
12. More recently, SOAW has finally made some headway by working
with Latin American regimes. Several Left-leaning governments in
South America, namely Venezuela, Uruguay, and Argentina, agreed
to stop sending soldiers and officers to the SOA. This is another
example of pacifists having to rely on governments, which are coercive
institutions, to accomplish their objectives. Specifically, they are dealing
with governments that have challenged the "Washington Consensus"
I 162 I
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ENDNOTES
and, thus, have less interest in getting their troops trained by the US.
However, these governments have all been active in stomping on popular
movements, by methods including suppressing dissident media and killing
protestors. Because these governments have arisen from the authoritarian
Left they have co-opted and fragmented rebellion. The end result is the
same as when they were more closely aligned with Washington: control.
It would also be useful to note that in some of these cases, notably in
Argentina, militant social movements played a major role in toppling
III
the prior US-aligned administtations and allowing the election of Leftist
governments.
II
13. Beck er aI., "Strike One to Educate One Hundred," 190-193.
14. David Graeber, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Chicago: Prickly
Paradigm Press, 2004). Anarchist and, not coincidentally, academic ill
III
David Graeber suggests that, in addition to creating alternatives in the
form of "international institutions" and "local and regional forms of self­
governance," we should deprive states of their substance by removing
"their capacity to inspire terror" (63). To accomplish this, he suggests
that we "pretend nothing has changed, allow official state representatives
to keep their dignity, even show up at their offices and fill out a form
now and then, but otherwise, ignore them" (64). Curiously, he offers the
vague examples of a couple of societies in Madagascar still dominated
and exploited by neocolonial regimes as evidence that this pseudostrategy
could somehow work.
15. Penny McCall-Howard, "Argentina's Factories: Now Producing
Revolution," Left Tum, no. 7 (October/November 2002): http://www.
leftturn.org/Articles/Viewer.aspx?id=308&type=M; and Michael Albert,
"Argentine Self-Management," ZNet, November 3, 2005, http://www.
zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=26&1temID=9042.
16. I do not wish to porttay repression as an automatic thing. Sometimes
the authorities do not notice something like an anarchist community
center, and, more often, they choose to contain it rather than roll it back.
But hard or soft, they do draw a line beyond which they will not let us
pass without a fight.
17. Rick Rowley, The Fourth World War (Big Noise, 2003). Also see my
critique of this film, "The Fourth World War: A Review," available on www.
signalfire.org.
18. Ian Traynor, "US Campaign Behind the Turmoil in Kiev," Guardian
UK, November 26, 2004, http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/
story/0"I360080,00.html.
I 163 I
ENDNOTES
PEI1'R Gfll)!'RLOOS
32. Ibid., 127.
19. Williams, Our Enemies in Blue.
f
33. Ibid., 147.
20. "Internal conflicts are another major source of vulnerability within the
.,
t
movement." Randy Borum and Chuck Tilbv, "Anarchist Direct Actions:
34. Ibid., 209.
A Challenge for Law Enforcement," Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, no.
35. Ibid., 211.
28 (2005): 219. The police themselves salivate over such backstabbing.
36. Ibid., 213.
21. Quoted in Fifth Estate, no. 370 (fall 2005): 34.
I
\
22. George W. Bush, "Address to a Joint Session of Congress" (speech,
United States Capitol, Washington, DC, September 20, 2001); http://
www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html.
23. At the time of this writing, more than a dozen alleged members of
f.
the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)
have been arrested after the FBI infiltrated the radical environmental
movement. They have been threatened with life sentences for simple
arsons, and, under this tremendous pressure, many have agreed to snitch
for the government. Six activists with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty
(SHAC), a group that waged a successful and aggressive boycott against
:1
a company that tested on animals, were charged in March 2006 under
the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and recently imprisoned for several
years. Rodney Coronado, a longtime environmental and indigenous
activist and former ELF prisoner, was just sent back to prison merely
for giving a workshop that encouraged radical environmentalism and
included information about how he built the incendiary device used in
the attack for which he was already imprisoned.
24.Williams, Our Enemies in Blue, 201.
25. JH, "World War 1: The Chicago Trial," Fifth Estate, no. 370 (fall
2005): 24.
26. JH, "Sabotage," Fifth Estate, no. 370 (fall 2005): 22.
27. JH, "World War 1:The Chicago Trial," 24.
28. Paul Avrich, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1991), 153, 165.
29. The Galleanists were a group of anarchists centered around a paper
published by Luigi Galleani. Though they were influenced by Galleani's
brand of anarchism, they did not appoint him leader or actually
name themselves after him. The label "Galleanist" is primarily one of
convenience.
30. Paul Avrich, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background, 127.
31. Ibid., 207.
I 164 I
37. Lon Savage, Thunder in the Mountains: The West Virginia Mine War,
1920-21 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990).
38. Borum and Tilby, "Anarchist Direct Actions," 220.
39. Asof] anuary 2006, 88 percent ofSunnis in Iraq and 41percent of Shiites
admit that they approve of attacks on US-led forces(Editor& Publisher, "Half
ofIraqis Back Attacks on US," reprinted in Asheville Global Report, no. 369
[February 9-15, 2006]: http://www.agmews.org/?section=archives&cac
id=13&section_id=lO&briefs=true). It is possible that, given the climate
of political repression in Iraq, the actual percentages are higher but many
did not wish to disclose their support for the insurgency to pollsters. In
August 2005, 82 percent of Iraqis said they "strongly oppose" the presence
of occupation troops, according to a secret British military poll that was
leaked to the press. The same percentage reported that they wanted US
troops out of their country in a May 2004 poll taken by the Coalition
Provisional Authority (Thomas E. Ricks, "82 Percent of Iraqis Oppose US
Occupation," Washington Post (May 13, 2004): http://www.globalpolicy.
org/ngos/advocacy/ protest!iraq/2004/0513poll.htm. However, these
days it is hard to talk about an Iraqi resistance, because Western media
coverage would have us believe the only thing going on is the sectarian
bombing of civilians. The strong possibility exists that these bombings are
orchestrated by the occupiers, though from our current vantage we really
cannot know what is going on in the resistance. Suffice it to say, most Iraqi
resistance groups have taken a position against killing civilians, and it is to
these groups that I refer. I wrote more on the possibility of US involvement
in sectarian killings in "An Anarchist Critique of the Iraq War," available
on www.signalfire.org.
40. Martin Oppenheimer, The Urban Guerrilla (Chicago: Quadrangle
Books, 1969), 141-142.
CHAPrER SIX-NONVIOLENCE. ISDELUDED
1. Michael Nagler, The Steps of Nonviolence (New York: The Fellowship of
Reconciliation, 1999), Introduction. Anything other than nonviolence
is portrayed to be the result of "fear and anger ...potentially damaging
emotions."
I 165 I
PElrR GEIDERLOOS ENDNOTES
r 2. Irwin and Faison, "Why Nonviolence?" 15. A third possible definition might try to draw a line, based on common
3. Ibid.
4. Tani and Sera, False Nationalism, 167.
5. George Jackson, Blood In My Eye (Baltimore: Black Classics Press,
1990).
6. Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom, 105.
7. Kuwasi Balagoon, A Soldier's Story: Writings of a Revolutionary NewAfrikan
Anarchist (Montreal: Solidarity, 2001), 28, 30, 72.
8. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 249-251.
9. "Active resistance occurs when activists use force against the police ...
or proactively engage in illegal activity such as vandalism, sabotage, or
property damage." This sentence appears in Borum and Tilby, "Anarchist
Direct Actions," 211. The authors, one a professor and one a former
police chief, include sir-ins and the like as passive resistance.
10. I am referring to the black bloc as a militant tactic, not to punk fashion
blocs that wear all black but in the end act passively. Real black blocs are
becoming less common in the US.
11. Spruce Houser, "Violence/Nonviolence" panel discussion. Houser is
a self-proclaimed anarchist and pacifist.
12. Houser, "Domestic Anarchist Movement Increasingly Espouses
Violence," http://athensnews.com/index.php?action=viewarticle&secti
on=archives&story_id=17497. In true pacifist form, Houser submitted his
article to the Athens News in preparation for the coming North American
Anarchist Conference, in an attempt to bolster pacifism by turning local
public opinion against the "violent anarchists." He meekly protests the
fact that his article was turned by the corporate media into propaganda
against the entire anarchist movement with a handwritten note, scrawled
on the many photocopies of the article he handed out, stating that his
original title was "Anarchism and Violence," but the editor changed it.
13. Burt Green, "The Meaning of Tiananmen," Anarchy: A Journal of
Desire Armed, no. 58 (Fall-Winter 2004): 44.
14. Judith Kohler, "Antiwar Nuns Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years," Associated
Press, July 25, 2003. I won't begrudge anyone the use of any trial strategy
she deems appropriate, but, in this case, the nuns' argument truthfully
reflects the fact that they did not cause any real, physical destruction to
the missile facility, when they certainly had an opportunity to cause such
destruction.
I 166 I
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i
sense, through the potential candidates for violence. If we lived in a needs­
based political economy, common sense would recognize people's need to
defend themselves and live free of oppression; thus, revolutionary action
toward the goal of a society in which everyone could achieve their needs
could not be considered violent. Because we live in a society in which our
concept of justice is based on punishment, which is to say that the behavior
of just people is the avoidance of transgression, common sense recognizes
paying taxes (to an imperialist state) to be nonviolent, while paying a contract
killer is considered violent. Though both actions have similar results, it is
certainly easier to expect people not to commit the latter action (which
requires taking initiative) and permit them to commit the former action
(which is just going along with the flow). In such a society (for example,
ours), pacifism really is passivism because not committing violence really
has more to do with avoiding culpability than with taking responsibility.
16. Todd Allin Morman, "Revolutionary Violence and the Future
Anarchist Order," Social Anarchism, no. 38 (2005): 30-38.
17. Ibid., 34.
18. Ibid., 35.
19. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 306.
20. Churchill and Vander Wall, Agentsof Repression, 103-106.
21. This iswhat academic anarchist Howard Ehrlich advised in his keynote
address to the North American Anarchist Convergence in Athens, Ohio,
August 14, 2004.
22. Quoted in a video clip included in Sam Green and Bill Siegel, director/
producer, The Weather Underground (The Free History Project, 2003). As
for the flexibility of Gandhi's commitment to nonviolence, his words on
Palestinian resistance are informative: "I wish they had chosen the way
of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable
encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons
of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in
the face of overwhelming odds." Jews for Justice in the Middle East, The
Origin of the Palestine·Israel Conflict, 3
m
ed. (Berkeley: Jews for Justice in the
Middle East, 2001). The authors cite Martin Buber and Paul R. Mendes­
Flohr, A Land of Two Peoples (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).
23. Nonviolent activists frequently rely on the media to disseminate their
point. I have already mentioned multiple examples involving protests.
For another example: On January 31, 2006, an activist on a listserv for
the supposedly radical anti-authoritarian group Food Not Bombs posted
I 167 I
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ENDNOTES
PETI:R GflDERLOOS
a suggestion for an action during President Bush's State of the Union
address. The suggestion was for thousands of people to Google the phrase
"Impeach Bush" during his speech. Supposedly, the corporate media
would pick up on this factoid and begin publicizing it rather than their
typical surface analysis of how well Bush presented himself in his speech.
Needless to say, no such thing occurred.
24. Malcolm X had this to say about Gandhian notions of universal
brotherhood and love: "My belief in brotherhood would never restrain
me in any way from protecting myself in a society from a people whose
disrespect for brotherhood makes them feel inclined to put my neck on a
tree at the end of a rope." Perry, Malcolm X: The Last Speeches, 88.
25. For example, my acquaintances in prison were quite conservative
in condemning the "DC Sniper" and even hoping that the perpetrator
would get the death penalty. But when an off-duty FBI agent was added to
the list of sniper victims, they all expressed immense satisfaction.
26. Ashen Ruins, Againstthe Corpse Machine.
27. A prime example is Stephen Salisbury and Mark Fineman, "Deep
Down at Graterford: [o-]o Bowen and 'The Hole,?' The Philadelphia
Inquirer, vol. 305, no. 131, November 8, 1981, AI. The first six paragraphs
of the article are all about Joseph Bowen and his experiences in the Hole,
including numerous quotes from Bowen and personalizing descriptions
that portray him as he speaks-the reader is thus brought into the prison
right next to him. The eighth paragraph begins, "But Joseph Bowen also
forced those negotiators-and, thus, the world on the streets outside-to
see more than a three-time murderer with new-found power. Through
negotiator Chuck Stone and the media that covered every nuance of
his five-day siege, Bowen also forced the outside world to confront the
realities of another world-a world of institutions he and thousands of
other inmates in Pennsylvania perceive as oppressive and racist, robbing
human beings of not only their dignity, but, sometimes, their lives."
28. Churchill, Pacifism as Pathology, 70-75.
29. To confirm the prevalence of this mindset among anti-SOA pacifists,
and to hear these preposterous claims repeated ad nauseam, one need
only attend the yearly vigil outside Fort Benning, home of the SOA.
30. Eating meat and paying taxes are perhaps self-explanatory. Research
into aluminum production (and the concomitant of hydro-electric dam
construction), auto-factory conditions, air pollution caused by internal
combustion engines, the level of fatalities incurred as a matter of course
by a car culture, and the way in which industrialized nations procure their
I 168 I
petroleum will reveal why driving a car is a violent activity, enough so that
we cannot take seriously a moral pacifist who drives a car. Eating tofu,
in the current economy, is integrally connected to the use of disposable
immigrant labor, genetic modifications of soyand the resulting destruction
of ecosystems and food cultures, and the ability of the United States
to undermine subsistence-farming cultures around the world, fueling
globalization with the threat and reality of starvation. Paying rent supports
property owners who will throw a family out into the streets if they cannot
make payments in time, who invest in ecocidal development and urban
sprawl, and who assist in the gentrifying of cities, with attendant violence
levied against homeless people, people of color, and low-income families.
Being nice to a cop contributes to the masochist culture of worship that
allows agents of law and order to beat and murder people with impunity. It
is a striking historical peculiarity that allows police to enjoy broad popular
support, and even think of themselves as heroes, when it used to be that
they were well known as scum and lackeysof the ruling class.
31. Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 54.
32. "We are at war.....,Art Burton (keynote add ress, People United, Afton,
VA, June 19,2004). Burton was a member of the Richmond NAACP. The
Zapatistas describe the current world order as the Fourth World War, and
this sentiment has been echoed across the globe.
CIiAPfERSEVEN-THE ALTERNATIVE
1. Helen Woodson and my former codefendant and cellmate Jerry Zawada
come to mind as committed, pacifist revolutionaries.
2. Though this particular quote is my own wording, the argument it
represents comes frequently from the mouths of nonviolent activists.
Todd Allin Morman begins his article "Revolutionary Violence and
the Future Anarchist Order" by pointing out that none of the violent
revolutions in the United States, Russia, China, or Cuba "has led to a just
society, a free society or even to a 'workers' paradise" (30).
3. 1 am judging the Leninists' motivations by the aims and actions of
their leaders-as members of an authoritarian organization, the rank­
and-file demonstrably prioritized following the leaders over their own
intentions, good or bad. The aims and actions of the Leninist leadership,
from the very beginning, included improving and expanding the Tsarist
secret police, reconstituted as the Cheka; forcibly converting millions of
independent peasants into wage laborers; blocking direct barter between
producers; instituting stark wage hierarchies between officers and soldiers
in the military, which was composed largely of ex-Tsarist officers; taking
I 169 I
PEITR GFl.DERLOOS
over, centralizing, and ultimately destroying the independent workers'
"soviets," or councils; seeking and accepting development loans from
British and American capitalists; bargaining and collaborating with
imperialist powers at the end of World War I; repressing the activism
and publications of anarchists and social revolutionaries; and more. See
Alexander Berkman, The Bolshevik Myth (London: Freedom Press, 1989),
Alexandre Skirda, Nestor Makhno, Anarchy's Cossack: The Struggle for Free
Soviets in the Ukraine 1917-1921 (Oakland: AK Press, 2004), and Voline,
The Unknown Revolution (Montreal: Black Rose, 2004).
4. A good history of this movement can be found in Alexandre Skirda,
NestorMakhno, Anarchy's Cossack.
5. In their article written for police strategists, "Anarchist Direct Actions,"
Randy Borumand Chuck Tilbvpoint out that in some casesdecentralization
has left anarchists isolated and more vulnerable to repression, though on
the whole it is clear that decentralization makes radical groups harder to
infiltrate and repress; communication, coordination, and solidarity are the
critical components for the survival of decentralized networks. Borum and
Tilbv, "Anarchist Direct Actions," 203-223.
6. Without autonomy, there can be no freedom. For a basic introduction to
these and other anarchist principles, see Errico Malatesta, Anarchy(London:
Freedom Press, 1920); or Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1921). A good article containing thoughts
on an anarchist revolutionary process similar to the one I have phrased
is Wolfi Landstreicher's ''Autonomous Self-Organization and Anarchist
Intervention." Also, Roger White's Post Colonial Anarchism provides a
number of important arguments for the right of each community and
nation to autonomously identify itself and choose its method of struggle.
7. For example, the Black Liberation Army, one of the more successful
urban guerrilla groups in the US, failed in large part for want of an above­
ground support structure, according to Jalil Muntaqim, WeAre Our Own
Liberators (Montreal: Abraham Guillen Press, 2002), 37-38. On the other
hand, the anarchist insurgent army led by Makhno in Ukraine could
sustain effective guerrilla warfare against the immensely larger and better­
armed Red Army for so long precisely because it enjoyed a great deal of
support from the peasantry, who hid and tended wounded insurgents,
provided food and supplies, and collected information on enemy
positions. Skirda, Makhno, Anarchy's Cossack, 248, 254-255.
8. John Sayles, "Foreword," in Lon Savage's Thunder in the Mountains:
The West VirginiaMine War, 1920-21 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh
Press, 1990).
I 170 I
r

1
N D E x
a
alternative building, 83, 96-98, 102
Abu-Jamal, Mumia, 11-12,30,
alternative media, 85, 86
42,71
grassroots, 90
Ache people, 101
American Indian Movement
Adams, Frankve Malika, 71
(AIM), 28, 42, 48, 57
Adunata dei Refrattari, L'
counterinsurgency program
(newspaper), 112
against, 39
African Americans, 24-30,34-36,
killings of members of, 46
52,74
women in, 74
arrests of, 56
American Indians, 24, 40, 42,
co-opting of leaders of, 53
120
disarming of, 34, 35
SeealsoAmerican Indian
militant struggle of, 11-12
Movement; specific tribes
'\ (see also black liberation
American Legion, 52
movement)
anarchists, 58-59, 106, 110, 122,
self-defense of, 36
131
in Vietnam War, 14
in anti-WTO protests, 56-57
Seealso civil rights movement
feminists and, 68, 69, 72
AIDS, 105
Italian immigrant, 108, 110­
Al-Qaida, 17,85
nz
Albany, Georgia, civil
nonviolent, 1, 97, 109-110,
disobedience campaign, 12
125-126
I 171 I

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION
This book is dedicated to Sue Daniels (1960-2004), a brilliant ecologist, bold feminist, passionate anarchist, and beautiful and car­ ing human being who nurtured and challenged everyone around her. Your bravery and wisdom continue to inspire me, and in that way your spirit remains indomitable... ...and to Greg Michael (1961-2006), who embodied health, as a wholeness of being and an indefatigable quest against the poisons of our world, even in the unhealthiest of circumstances. From a bag of raisins stolen from the prison kitchen to the unfolding of memory on a mountaintop, the gifts you have given me are a salve and a weapon, and they will stay with me until the last prison is a pile of rubble. Special thanks to Megan, Patrick, Carl, Gopal, and Sue D. for proofreading or giving me feedback, and to Sue F., James, Iris, Marc, Edi, Alexander, Jessica, Esther, and everyone who came to the workshops for criticism valuable to this second edition.

1

CHAPTER ONE
NONV[OLENCE [S [NEFFECT[VE

7

CHAPTER TWO
NONVIOLENCE [S RAC[ST

23

CHAPTER THREE
NONVIOLENCE [S STAT[ST

45

CHAPTER FOUR
NONVIOLENCE [S PATRIARCHAL

65

CHAPTER FIVE
NONV[OLENCE [S TACTICALLY

81

&

STRATEGICALLY INFER[OR

CHAPTER SIX
NONV[OLENCE [S DELUDED

117

CHAPTER SEVEN
THE ALTERNAT[VE: POSSIBILlT[ES FOR REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM

135

Endnotes Index Recommended Reading About the Author

144 171 180 182

1
INTRODUCTION

In August 2004, at the North American Anarchist Convergence in Athens, Ohio, I participated in a panel discussing the topic of nonviolence versus violence. Pre­ dictably, the discussion turned into an unproductive and competitive debate. I had hoped that each pan­ elist would be given a substantial amount of time to speak in order to present our ideas in depth and to limit the likely alternative of a back-and-forth volley of cliched arguments. But the facilitator, who

1

was also a conference organizer, and on top of that a panelist, decided against this approach. Because of the hegemony advocates of nonviolence ex­ ert, criticisms of nonviolence are excluded from the major periodicals, alternative media, and other forums accessed by anti-authoritarians.' Nonviolence is maintained as an article of faith, and as a key to full inclusion within the movement. Anti-authoritarians and anti-capitalists who suggest or practice militancy suddenly find themselves abandoned by the same pacifists they've just marched with at the latest protest. Once isolated, militants lose access to resources, and they lose protec­ tion from being scapegoated by the media or criminalized by the government. Within these dynamics caused by the knee-jerk isolation of those who do not conform to nonviolence, there is no possibility for a healthy or critical discourse to evaluate our chosen strategies. In my experience, most people who are becoming involved with radical movements have never heard good arguments, or even bad ones, against nonviolence. This is true even when they already know a great deal about other movement issues. Instead, they tend

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PETER GElDERLOOS

lNfRODUCllON

to be acquainted with the aura of taboo that shrouds militants; to have internalized the fear and disdain the corporate media reserve for people willing to actually fight against capitalism and the state; and to have confused the isolation imposed on militants with some self-imposed isolation that must be inherent in militancy. Most pro­ ponents of nonviolence with whom I have discussed these issues, and these have been many, approached the conversation like it was a foregone conclusion that the use of violence in social movements was both wrong and self-defeating (at least if it occurred anywhere within 1,000 miles of them). On the contrary, there are a great many solid arguments against nonviolence that pacifists have simply failed to answer in their literature. This book will show that nonviolence, in its current manifes­ tations, is based on falsified histories of struggle. It has implicit and explicit connections to white people's manipulations of the struggles of people of color. Its methods are wrapped in authori­ tarian dynamics, and its results are harnessed to meet government objectives over popular objectives. It masks and even encourages patriarchal assumptions and power dynamics. Its strategic options invariably lead to dead ends. And its practitioners delude them­ selves on a number of key points. Given these conclusions, if our movements are to have any possibility of destroying oppressive systems such as capitalism and white supremacy and building a free and healthy world, we must spread these criticisms and end the stranglehold of nonviolence over discourse while developing more effective forms of struggle. We might say that the purpose of a conversation is to persuade and be persuaded, while the purpose of a debate is to win, and thus silence your opponent. One of the first steps to success in any debate is to control the terminology to give oneself the advantage and put one's opponents at a disadvantage. This is exactly what pacifists have done in phrasing the disagreement as nonviolence versus violence. Critics of nonviolence typically use this dichotomy, with which most of us fundamentally disagree, and push to expand the

boundaries of nonviolence so that tactics we support, such as prop­ erty destruction, may be accepted within a nonviolent framework, indicating how disempowered and delegitimized we are. \ . I know of no activist, revolutionary, or theorist relevant to the movement today who advocates only the use of violent tactics and opposes any usage of tactics that could not be called violent. We are advocates of a diversity of tactics, meaning effective combina­ tions drawn from a full range of tactics that might lead to lib­ eration from all the components of this oppressive system: white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and the state. We believe that tactics should be chosen to fit the particular situation, not drawn from a preconceived moral code. We also tend to believe that means are reflected in the ends, and would not want to act in a way that invariably would lead to dictatorship or some other form of society that does not respect life and freedom. As such, we can more accurately be described as proponents of revolutionary or militant activism than as proponents of violence.' I will refer to proponents of nonviolence by their chosen nomenclature, as nonviolent activists or, interchangeably, paci­ fists. Many practitioners of such prefer one term or the other, and some even make a distinction between the two, but in my experience the distinctions are not consistent from one person to the next. Most importantly, pacifists/nonviolent activists themselves tend to collaborate regardless of their chosen term, so the difference in labels is not important to the considerations of this book. Broadly, by using the term pacifism or nonviolence, they designate a way of life or a method of social activism that avoids, transforms, or excludes violence while attempting to change society to create a more peaceful and free world. At this point it might help to clearly define violence, but one of the critical arguments of this book is that violence cannot be clearly defined. I should also clarify a few other terms that pop up frequently. The word radical I use literally, to mean a critique, ac­ tion, or person that goes to the roots of a particular problem rather

I2I

I3I

I include the words or actions of reformist pacifists only in reference to campaigns where they worked together closely with revolutionary pacifists and the quoted material has relevance to all involved. to mean the overthrow of current rulers by a new set of rulers (which would make anti-authoritarian revolution an oxymoron). Because shared commitment to nonviolence. or in reference to so­ cial struggles cited as examples proving the effectiveness of nonvio­ lence in achieving revolutionary ends. When I talk about pacifists and advocates of nonviolence. as one portion of a broad range of actions needed to overthrow the state and build a better world. however.) On the other hand.(' PEITR GELDERLOOS INTRODUCTION than focusing on the superficial solutions placed on the table by the prejudices and powers of the day. At first. attend protests together. to be replaced by any number of other social arrangements. It is difficult to distinguish between revolutionary and non-revolutionary pacifists. an ideal revolutionary activist would not be one who obsessively focuses on fighting cops or engaging in clandestine acts of sabo­ tage. and frequently use the same tactics at the same actions. or who would not support other activists solely because of their militancy. and because the more accurate alternative. I do not use the word revolution literally. and all other forms of oppressive authority. nor are they aimed at individual activists who choose to dedicate themselves to noncombative work. I use this word only because it has such long-standing favorable connotations. such as a vigil that remains peaceful. liberation. is clumsy in its adjectival forms. government. Though I focus on debunking pacifism in service of revolu­ tionary goals. in case anyone is still unclear: an anarchist is not someone who favors chaos but someone who favors the total liberation of the world through the abolition of capitalism. To reemphasize a crucial distinction: the criticisms in this book are not aimed at specific actions that do not exemplify vio­ lent behavior. proven or utopian. such as healing or building strong com­ munity relationships. I am referring to those who would impose their ideology across the entire movement and dissuade other activists from militancy (including the use of violence). but only to mean a social upheaval with widespread transforma­ tive effects. in this book I include quotes from pacifists working for limited reforms in addition to quotes from people working for total social transformation. but one who embraces and supports these activities. through ignorance or design. The word is not a synonym for extreme or extremist. much as the media would have us believe it is. this may seem like I am building a straw-man argument. those are the boundaries I will use in defining these criticisms. because they themselves tend not to make that distinction in the course of their activity-they work together. I4I 15\ . Likewise. and not shared commitment to a revolutionary goal. is the chief criterion for nonviolent activists in deciding whom to work with. where effective. (Similarly.

the movement was nonviolent 1 I7I . provided they are deployed effectively. caps on the nuclear arms race. Typical examples are the independence of India from British colonial rule.r /' I could spend plenty of time talking about the failures of nonviolence.' In India. alternately. the civil rights movement of the 1960s. the massive protests in 2003 against the US invasion of Iraq have been much applauded by nonviolent activists. They suffered massacres and responded with a couple of riots. whereas the rest of us believe that change comes from the whole spectrum of tactics present in any revolutionary situation. blame their failures on the contemporary presence of violent struggle. Because no major social conflict exhibits a uniformity of tactics and ideologies.' And though they INEFFECTIVE have not yet been hailed as a victory. but. and NONVIOLENCE IS the peace movement during the war against Vietnam. people under the leadership of Gandhi built up a massive nonviolent movement over decades and engaged in protest. it may be more useful to talk about the successes of nonviolence. The pacifist position requires that success must be at­ triburable to pacifist tactics and pacifist tactics alone. Instead. noncooperation.! There is a pattern to the historical manipulation and white­ washing evident in every single victory claimed by nonviolent activists. which is to say that all such conflicts exhibit pacifist tactics and decidedly nonpacifist tactics. Pacifism would hardly be attractive to its supporters if the ideology had pro­ duced no historical victories. and exemplary hunger strikes and acts of disobedience to make British imperial­ ism unworkable. economic boycotts. pacifists have to erase the history that disagrees with them or. the story goes. on the whole.

of tu. the second of which especially devastated the "mother country.!h~mmm. but because of all the attention he was given by the British press and the prominence he received from being included in important negotia­ tions with the British colonial government."? Significantly. another layer of the myth of Indian independence comes unraveled." The pacifist history of India's struggle cannot make any sense of the fact that Subhas Chandra Bose. who won mass support for bombings and assassinations as part of a struggle to accomplish the "overthrow of both foreign and Indian capitalism. Independence from colonial rule has given India more autonomy in a few areas. Ignored are important militant leaders such as Chandrasekhar Azad. after persevering for decades. was twice elected president of the Indian National Congress." The armed struggles of Arab and Jewish mili­ tants in Palestine from 1945 to 1948 further weakened the British Empire. have joined in the pillaging).~~de~~d. 1 I8 I I9 I . As part of a dis­ turbingly universal pattern. pacifists white out those other forms of resistance and help propagate the false history that Gandhi and his disciples were the lone masthead and rudder of Indian resistance.QdjtjzatiQD the commons an~ .. Resistance to British colonialism included enough militancy that the Gandhian method can be viewed most accurately as one of several competing forms of popular resistance. Rather. but the exploitatio!l_and. history remembers Gandhi above all oth­ ers not because he represented the unanimous voice of India." What kind of victory allows the losing side to dictate the time and manner of the victors' ascendancy? The British authored the new consti­ tution and turned power over to handpicked successors. Moreover." India is still exploited by Euro/ American corporations (though several new Indian corpo­ rations. and presented a clear threat that the Indians might give up civil disobedience and take up arms en masse if ignored for long enough. In many ways the poverty of its people has deepened and the exploitation has become more efficient. and revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh. the leadership position he assumed did not always enjoy the consistent backing of the masses. in that many violent pres­ sures also informed the British decision to withdraw. We realize this threat to be even more direct when we under­ stand that the pacifist history of India's independence movement is a selective and incomplete picture-nonviolence was not universal in India.R GELDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISINfffECTNE and." who fought in armed struggle against the British colonizers. the Indian people won their in­ dependence. Gandhi lost so much support from Indians when he "called off the movement" after the 1922 riot that when the British locked him up afterwards. When we remember that history is written by the victors. and dependent on military aid and other support from Euro/American states. "not a ripple of protest arose in India at his arrest. providing an undeniable hallmark of pacifist victory. this cannot be excluded as a factor in the decision of the British to relinquish direct colonial administration. they chose to transfer the ter­ ritory from direct colonial rule to neocolonial rule.PETr. 6 While Gandhi was perhaps the most singularly influential and popular figure in India's independence struggle. India lost a clear opportunity for meaningful liberation from an easily recognizable foreign oppres­ sor. the militant candidate. and still provides resources and markets for the imperialist states. and it has certainly allowed a handful of Indians to sit in the seats of power. They fanned the flames of religious and ethnic separatism so that India would be divided against itself. Any liberation movement now would have to go up against ~. The British were not forced to quit India. in 1938 and 1939. mostly subsidiaries. prevented from gaining peace and prosperity. The British had lost the ability to maintain colonial power after losing millions of troops and a great deal of other resources during two extremely violent world wars. imperialist states that colonized the Global South.e-h. The actual history is more complicated. The sorriest aspect of pacifists' claim that the independence of India is a victory for nonviolence is that this claim plays directly into the historical fabrication carried out in the interests of the white-supremacist. The liberation movement in India failed.

Mumia Abu-Jamal boldly documents this history in his 2004 book. historians. and government officials) is that the movement against racial oppression in the United States was primarily nonviolent. The claim of a pacifist victory in capping the nuclear arms race is somewhat bizarre. 66 per­ cent of African Americans said the activities of the Black Panther Party gave them pride. On the conrrary. are disenfranchised (from voting for white candidates in a white political system that reflects a white culture) when it is convenient to ruling interests. except for the occasional symbolic manifestation of US multiculturalism-the stereotyped sporting mascot or hula-girl doll that obscures the reality of actual indigenous people. Millions of voters. poorer access to housing and health care." They wanted full political and economic equality.PETER Gfl. the victory is a dubious one.'? And. the entire issue seems to have been settled more as a matter of internal policy within the government than as a conflict between a social movement and a government. The much-ignored nonproliferation rreaties only came after the arms race had already been won. people see it as an example of nonviolent victory. popular e support within the movement. and certainly not liberation. I 10 I I 11 I . again. but these were not the only demands of the majority of movement participants. the independence movement proves to have failed. And it seems clear that prolif­ eration continues as needed. ) increasingly gravitated toward militant revolutionary groups such as the Black Panther Parry." In fact. denial of social services they pay taxes for. On balance. and poorer health than white people." Other races have also been missed by the mythical fruits of civil rights. it was neither a victory nor nonviolent. and every single war and covert action since 1945 has been fought with other technologies. most of them black. while a society that has anointed itself "color-blind" evinces nary a twinge of hypocrisy. People of color still have lower average incomes. Latino and Asian immigrants are especially vulnerable to abuse. black intercommunalism. Native peoples are kept so low on the socioeconomic ladder as to remain invisible. But. We Want Freedom. with the US as undisputed nuclear hegemon in possession of more nuclear weap­ ons than was even practical or useful. De facto segregation still exists. or some other independence from white im- perialism.'s Southern Christian Leadership Con­ ferenC (SCLC) had considerable power and influence." According to a 1970 Harris poll.DERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISINffffCTIVE the confounding dynamics of nationalism and ethnic/religious rivalry in order to abolish a domestic capitalism and government that are far more developed. though pacifist groups such as Martin Luther King Jr. even to a government bent on conquering the world. the movement was not exclusively nonviolent. of diverting staggering resources toward nuclear proliferation when you already have enough bombs to blow up the entire planet. militant srruggle had long been a part of black people's resistance to white supremacy. Once again. Muslims and Arabs are taking the brunt of the post-September 11 repression. Chernobyl and several near meltdowns in the US showed that nuclear energy (a necessary com­ ponent of nuclear arms development) was something of a liability. currently in the form of tactical nuke development and a new wave of proposed nuclear power facilities. deportation. and 43 percent said the party represented their own views. like the other examples discussed here. and only four black senators have served since Reconstruction. Really. The US civil rights movement is one of the most important episodes in the pacifist history. The common projection (primarily by white progressives.V Political equality is also lack­ ing. pacifists. it included groups that carried out a number of bomb­ ings and other acts of sabotage or guerrilla warfare. The move­ ment was successful in ending de jure segregation and expand­ ing the minuscule black petty bourgeoisie. and it doesn't take a protestor to question the usefulness. None of these demands were met-not equality. especially among poor black people. Across the world. educators. and toxic and backbreaking labor in sweatshops or as migrant agri­ cultural laborers. and many also wanted black liberation in the form of black nationalism.

the white power structure chose to negotiate with the pacifists. three thousand black people began fighting back. the movement retired (and rewarded Nixon with reelection) once Americans. The movement was less responsive to history's largest-ever bomb­ ing campaign. the US still accomplished its overall policy objectives in due time. targeting civilians." In the spring of 1963. the principled peace movement dissolved in tandem with the withdrawal of US troops (completed in 1973). Just two days later. and where. and burning white businesses. victories of the civil rights movement came when black people demonstrated they would not remain peaceful forever. I 12 I I 13 I . and though its chosen military strategy was defeated by the Vietnamese. The US peace movement failed to bring peace. were out of harm's way. black people in Albany still struggled against racism. including King. A month and a day later." so I'll only summarize it. The US government was not forced to pull out by peaceful protests. destroying police cars.T' In reality. The next day. but they had lost their preference for nonviolence). ending several years of a strategy to stall the civil rights movement. after continued police violence.'s Birmingham campaign was looking like it would be a repeat of the dismally failed action in Albany. injuring several cops (including the chief inspector). "The roots of armed resistance run deep in African American history. Birmingham-up until then an inflexible bastion of segregation-agreed to de­ segregate downtown stores. Martin Luther King Jr. rioting youth took over whole blocks for a night and forced the police to retreat from the ghetto. got much of their power from the specter of black resistance and the presence of armed black revolutionaries." and the US was losing political capital (and going fiscally bankrupt) to a point where pro-war politicians began calling for a strategic withdrawal (especially after the Tet Offensive proved the war to be "unwinna­ ble. Faced with the two alternatives. thousands of black people rioted again. One could also add Nixon's reelection in 1972. the nonviolent segments cannot be distilled and separated from the revolutionary parts of the movement (though alienation and bad blood. middle-class black activists. The claim that the US peace movement ended the war against Vietnam contains the usual set of flaws. tens of thousands of US troops were killed and hundreds of thousands wounded. on May 7 in Birmingham. Georgia (where a 9 month civil disobe­ dience campaign in 1961 demonstrated the powerlessness of nonviolent protestors against a government with seemingly bot­ tomless jails. In other words. after four years of escalation and genocide. after local white supremacists bombed a black home and a black business. With unforgivable self-righteousness. precisely because of the failure of the peace movement to make any domestic changes. Only those who ignore this fact see the Black Panther Party as somehow foreign to our common historical inheri­ tance. Pacifist. and the lack of even an anti-war nominee within the Democratic Party. pelting the police with rocks and bottles. on July 24. other troops demoralized by all the blood­ shed had become highly ineffective and rebellious. it was defeated politi­ cally and militarily. and not Vietnamese. US imperialism continued unabated. Churchill cites the victory of Republican Richard Nixon. or the continued occupation of South Vietnam by a US-trained and -financed military dictatorship. near the height of the anti-war movement. 1962. often existed between them). President Kennedy was calling for Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act. seizing a 9 block area." in the words of many at the time). demonstrating that a year after the nonviolent campaign." Perhaps the largest of the limited. which intensified after troop withdrawal. in 1968. if not hollow. As evidence of this." In fact. The criticism has been well made by Ward Churchill and others. to demon­ strate the powerlessness of the peace movement in "speaking truth to power. and President Kennedy backed the agreement with federal guarantees. and we have seen the results. Then. peace activists ignore that three to five million Indochinese died in the fight against the US military. encouraged by the state.PEIl:RGI'LDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE IS1NEffECI1VE 1 He writes.

a conservative estimate counts 174 anti-war bombings on campuses and at least 70 off-campus bombings and other violent attacks tar­ geting ROTC buildings. backfired. the self-serving nonviolent resistance in North America would hardly have existed. in response to black urban riots. as major actors in the militant resistance that crippled the US military during the Vietnam War. Without the vio­ lent resistance of the Vietnamese. and. Heinl stated in June 1971. government buildings. Especially in such a militaristic society. But it should be obvious that the prolifera­ tion of objectors and draft dodgers cannot redeem pacifist tactics. and indigenous troops. contributed significantly to the US government's decision to pull out ground troops. sabotage.. should not be ignored in favor of the pacifist whitewash.. and corporate of­ fices. US pacifist organizers in the 21 century seemed to expect a repeat of the victory that never hap­ pened in their plans to stop the invasion of Iraq. The US government's intentional plan.11 Fragging. 230 campus protests included physical violence. which caused US policy-makers to realize they could not win. and aiding the enemy. The domestic anti-war movement clearly worried US policv-makers. and 410 included damage to property. By every conceivable indicator. and property destruction. especially by black. Far more significant than passive conscientious objectors were the growing rebellions." but it had certainly not become powerful enough that we can say it "forced" the government to do anything. our army that remains in Viet­ nam is in a state approaching collapse. 0r I 14 I I 15 I . rioting in the stockades.Astonished brass would watch as local settler [white] officers would be forced to return salutes to New Afrikans [black soldiers) giv­ ing them the "Power" sign [raised fist].rEID GELDtRLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISINEffECTIVE Some pacifists will point out the huge number of "conscien­ tious objectors" who refused to fight. there would have been no need for a draft. In the 1969-1970 school year (September through May).. drug-ridden and dispirited where not near mutinous. to salvage some semblance of a nonviolent victory. its most forceful elements used violent protests.. Elsewhere than Vietnam the situa­ tion is nearly as serious. Perhaps confused by their own false history of the peace move­ ment during the Vietnam War. murdering their officers and non-commissioned officers.f The Pentagon estimated that 3 percent of officers and non­ coms killed in Vietnam from 1961 to 1972 were killed in fraggings by their own troops. the likelihood of soldiers' refusing to fight is proportional to their expectations of facing. bomb­ ings. As Colonel Robert D. refusal to fight. 14 Arid though they were less politically significant than resistance in the military in general. who did not identify with the "pacifism-at-any-price tactics" of the civil rights movement that had come before them. On February 15. of taking unemployed young black men off the streets and into the military. what was a very limited victory-the withdrawal of ground troops after many years of warfare-can be most clearly attributed to two factors: the successful and sustained violent resis­ tance of the Vietnamese. Latino. and the militant and often lethal resistance of the US ground troops themselves. including most of the elite universities. Matthew Rinaldi identifies "working class blacks and Latinos" in the military. Additionally. This estimate doesn't even take into account killings by stabbing or shooting.P In conclusion. soldiers in a unit pooled their money to raise a bounty for the killing of an unpopular officer. within the military. all activities of US soldiers. with individual units avoiding or having refused combat. bombings and other acts of violence in protest of the war on white college campuses.. in any case. In many instances. which was caused by demor­ alization from the effective violence of their enemy and political militancy spreading from the contemporaneous black liberation movement. a violent opposition that might kill or maim them. without a draft.." Washington officials visiting Army bases were freaked out at the development of "Black militant" culture.Nixon had to get the troops out of Vietnam fast or risk losing his army.

further clouded US war plans.300 troops. and promptly shrunk again after the Dominican Republic and Honduras also pulled out their troops. and fundamentalist. Aznar and his party lost in the polls. which exults in the "mas­ sive display of pacifist feeling. despite the millions of people nominally. and was not faced with a backlash until the war and occupation effort began to show ~ signs of failure due to the effective armed resistance of the Iraqi people. is con­ nected to their authoritarianism and brutality. A good case study regarding the efficacy of nonviolent protest can be seen in Spain's involvement with the US-led occupation.. a vision that is extremely authoritarian.. and most of all to the culture of intellectualism from which most terrorists come (although that is another topic entirely)." More than one million Spaniards pro­ tested the invasion. what was possibly an easy decision to kill and maim hundreds of unarmed people. however strategically necessary such an action may have seemed.The unprecedented wave of demonstrations. he was expected by all forecasts to win reelection-until the bombings. killing 191 people and injuring thousands more." The protests were the largest in history.300 Spanish troops. Spain. and he and his supporters eventually fled their moral high ground to defer to the Democratic Party platform's support for the occupation of Iraq. 2004. like United for Peace and Justice. were elected into power. even suggested the protests might avert war. And. The so-called opposition did not even manifest within the official political landscape. multiple bombs planted by an Al-Qaida-linked cell exploded in Madrid train sta­ tions. Directly because of this. The discrepancy that we may entertain between con- I 16 I I 17 I . Of course. the major party with an anti-war platform. they were entirely non­ violent. and 80 percent of the Spanish population was opposed to it. as the US government moved toward war with Iraq." accord­ ing to an article on the website of the nonviolent anti-war group United for Peace and justice. and the Social­ ists. was never for a moment taken seriously as a contender." Dennis Kucinich. Some groups. The invasion occurred as \ planned. and organizers extensively celebrated their massiveness and peacefulness. was one of the larger junior partners in the "Coalition of the Willing. nor do they demonstrate a concern for the well-being of the Iraqi people (a great many of whom they have blown to bits) so much as a concern for a particular vision of how Iraqi society should be organized.a few dozen terrorists willing to slaughter noncombatants were able to cause the withdrawal of more than a thousand occupation troops. On March 11. and powerlessly opposed to it. The one anti-war candidate in the Democratic Partv. peacefully. no doubt. Not only was Spanish prime minister Aznar able and allowed to go to war. The morality of the situation becomes more complicated when compared to the massive US bombing campaign that inten­ tionally killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Germany and Japan during World War II. patriarchal.. Bush received substantial political capital for invading Iraq.. it is generally considered acceptable. they were totally wrong.. and the protests totally ineffective." The article..appears to have been rattled by the surge in resistance to its calls for quick military action. excepting a few minor scuffles.PETER GELDERLOOS NONVIOl£NCEISINEfFECTIVE 2003. with 1." goes on to project that the "White House.'? The US-led coalition shrunk with the loss of 1. Because they remained passive and did If<' nothing to disempower the leadership. "week­ end protests worldwide by millions of anti-war activists delivered a stinging rebuke to Washington and its allies. The actions and statements of cells affiliated with AI Qaida do not suggest that they want a meaningful peace in Iraq.29 but their commitment to peace ended there-they did nothing to actually prevent Spanish military support for the invasion and occupation. they remained as power­ less as the citizens of any democracy. Whereas millions of peaceful activists voting in the streets like good sheep have not weakened the brutal occupation in any measurable way. just days before the voting booths opened. The anti-war movement did nothing to change the power relationships in the United States. Whereas this campaign was much more brutal than the Madrid bombings..

Hence. fearing that even if they were not guilty of desertion for sur­ rendering. It would also help to understand the extent of the idea's failures. the rescued Jews were ultimately protected by military force and kept safe by the borders of a country not under direct German occupation at a time when the war was starting to look bleak for the Nazis. gays. though there are still many examples of nonviolent resistance. overwhelming violence of the Allied governments that destroyed the Nazi state (though. perhaps be­ cause among them we may find our own relatives-my grandfather. it did not slow down the genocide or weaken the Nazis in any measurable way. many more than 191 Iraqi civilians have been killed for every 1.PETER Gl'lJ)!'RLOOS NONVlOLf. Yehuda Bauer. they cared far more about redrawing the map of Europe than about saving the lives of Roma. conducted a massive sit-down when the Nazis and local authorities prepared to deport them. Because we are not fighting for an authoritarian world. people in Den­ mark helped most of the country's seven thousand Jews escape to neutral Sweden. an important paradox. the Madrid bombings do not present an example for action. rather.300 occupation troops stationed there. or one. A controversial but necessary example is that of the Holocaust. If anyone has to die (and the US invasion makes this tragedy inevitable). Similarly. Begin­ ning in 1942. who deals exclusively with Jewish victims of the Holocaust. such as civil disobedience carried out by the Danes." militant resistance was all but absent." This act of civil disobedience may have delayed the deportation a short while. rather. leftists.coun­ seled against taking up arms. (Because of the violent onslaught of the Soviets. Up until 1942. but. their contact with foreigners in the concentration camps had contaminated them ideologically).. the inhabitants of a ghetto in Vilnius. emphatically documents this resistance. no alternatives to terrorism have been developed within the relatively vulnerable belly of the beast to substantially weaken the occupation. where the US and its allies are most prepared to meet it. "resistance was nonviolent. "rabbis and other leaders. A large number of them took action to save lives and sabo­ tage the Nazi death machine.NCE IS lNfffECTIVE demning the Madrid bombers (easy) and condemning the even more bloody-handed American pilots (not so easy. and others. Spanish citizens bear more blame than Iraqis (just as German and Japanese citizens bore more blame than other victims of World War II). the only real resistance is occurring in Iraq." For much of "the devouring. to be honest. for example) should make us question whether our condemna­ tion of terrorism really has anything to do with a respect for life."33 Clearly. the Nazis temporarily overlooked the minor thwarting of their plans by Sweden and Bulgaria. as Aryans faced a somewhat different set of consequences for resistance than the Nazis' primary victims? The Holocaust was only ended by the concerted. the Soviets tended to "purge" rescued prisoners of war. The victims of the Holocaust." In both of these cases. Do people who stick to peaceful tactics that have not proved effective in ending the war against Iraq really care more for human life than the Madrid terrorists? After all. were not entirely pas­ sive. Soviet prisoners of war. and people of Bulgaria stopped the deportation of Jews from that country. I 18 I I 19 I . So much for the victories of pacifism. however.) In 1941. the government. at great cost to the lives of guerrillas and noncombatants. So far. but it failed to save any lives. Jews began to resist violently. in the same year. to suggest that nonviolent re- sistance can work even in the worst conditiona" Is it really necessary to point out that the Danes. Jews..in which blood is spilled in accordance with calculated rationales. so we can measure the efficacy of pacifist resistance alone. Some pacifists have been so bold as to use examples of resistance to the Nazis. so the occasional oppositional uprisings cannot be used to justify the repression and genocide. Lithuania. as happens elsewhere when pacifists blame authoritarian violence on the audacity of the oppressed to take militant direct action against that authority. Church. The Holocaust is also one of the few phenomena where victim­ blaming is correctly seen as support or sympathy for the oppressor. In 1943." but they did not counsel passivity.

and assassinated govern­ ment officials. the strategy failed. accommodated the Nazis in an attempt not to rock the boat. at least 15. and it was not rebuilt. and he was duly killed and replaced. on August 16. Poland. A rebellion at Treblinka in August 1943 destroyed that death camp. to the death. and the western Soviet Union. In Lvov. "In the end. and children. Lithuania. They successfully hid children about to be deported and smuggled young men and women out of the ghetto so they could fight with the partisans. stolen. They knew they would be killed whether they were peaceful or not. you are doing something wrong. a group of partisans led by the Belsky brothers saved more than 1. women. 1943.000 unarmed Jews lived there. for that I 20 I I 21 I . According to Bauer. the obedient replacement was killed anyway just on suspicion of resistance). Ukraine. Belarus. and those who had tried to use it discovered with horror that they had become accomplices in the Nazis' murder plan. In comparison.PETER GELDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISINEFFECTIVE A number of leaders of the [udenrat.. tying up thousands of Nazi troops and other resources needed on the collapsing Eastern Front. As Bauer points out.f During a rebel­ lion at the Sobibor death camps in October 1943. they multiplied their effectiveness immensely by supporting those who did. Lithuania. but about sixty survived to join the partisans. and at least 5. and openly refused to cooperate with the Nazis. Most of these were quickly killed. nonviolent tactics (and. and they were clearly more effective. Poland. and home­ made weapons.000 Jewish partisans fought in the woods. And then there were the urban guerrillas and partisans who fought violently against the Nazis. In France. Similar partisan groups in France and Belgium sabo­ taged war infrastructure. they pretended to comply with Nazi orders." All of these violent uprisings slowed down the Holocaust. assassinated Nazi officials. as they were all bound for the death camps. they lived the last few weeks of their lives in freedom and resistance.'? Jewish and other partisan groups throughout Poland.") Bauer writes.200 Jewish men. In Kovno.?" In Poland. Participants in another insurrection at Auschwitz in October 1944 destroyed one of the crematoria. By rebelling violently. in the spe­ cific example of Lvov. "both sections [of the council] belonged to the underground and were in constant touch with the resisters . the Jewish Councils es­ tablished by the Nazis to govern the ghettos in compliance with Nazi orders. In April and May 1943." Other council members used a diversity of tactics.. sabotaged war factories. successfully blew up supply trains and railroads. in part by carrying out revenge killings against those who captured or turned in fugitives. and slowed down the Nazi war machine. the first council chairman refused to cooperate. but were secretly a part of the resis­ tance. "In eastern Poland. and helped several hundred of them to escape. Poland. Jews in the Warsaw ghetto rose up with smuggled. Czechoslovakia. and the Baltic coun­ tries also carried out acts of sabotage on German supply lines and fought off SS troops. the replace­ ments were much more compliant (though even obedience didn't save them. the council chairman refused to comply with Nazi orders. protected all or some of the time by the fighters. In Borszczow. Urban guerrillas such as a group composed of Jewish Zionists and Communists in Krakow. and he was shipped off to the Belzec death camp. (This is an apt example because many pacifists in the US today also believe that if you are rocking the boat or causing conflict. So­ bibor was closed down. and helped people escape the death camps. and continued for weeks. in the hope that as many Jews as possible would still be alive at the end of the war. A band of Jewish Communists in Belgium derailed a train that was taking people to Auschwitz. resisters killed several Nazi officers and allowed four hundred of the six hundred inmates to escape.and contributed significantly to the saving of most of the Jews in the counrry"? Even where they did not personally take part in violent resistance. Seven hundred young men and women fought for weeks. Another armed rebellion broke out in the ghetto of Bialystok."37 Other Jewish Council members were bolder. Two days after the revolt.

and I use the epithet racist only after careful consideration. that we face a self-perpetuating power structure that is I immune to appeals to conscience and sttong enough to plow over V the disobedient and uncooperative. pacifism as an ideology comes from a privileged con­ text. those who currently benefit from the ubiquitous structural violence. many of whom are people of color. and corporations. who control the militaries. nonviolence failed to sufficiently empower its practitioners. one of these days. they're 2 I 22 I I 23 I . replaced. People in Iraq must not fight back. structurally integral part of the current NONVIOLENCE IS social hierarchy. assassinated. muster a protest large enough to stop the war. We must also accept that all social sttuggles. that violence is an unavoidable. impeached. Pacifism assumes that white people who grew up in the suburbs with all their basic needs met can counsel oppressed people. In the Holocaust. while white activists in the US "bear witness" and write to Congress. and that it is people R A C I S T of color who are most affected by that violence. except those carried out by a completely pacified and thus ineffective people. Put simply. like true martyrs. governments and corporations hold a near-total monopoly on power. Indigenous people need to wait just a little longer (say. Nonviolence is an inherently privileged position in the modern context. it cannot destroy such a system. bureaucracies. We must reclaim histories of resistance to understand why we have failed in the past and how exactly we achieved the limited successes we did. to suffer patiently under an inconceivably greater violence. Time and again. I do not mean to exchange insults. Then. In the world today. Unless we change the power relationships (and. People in Latin America must suffer patiently. people struggling not for some token reform but for complete liberation-the reclamation of control over our own lives and the power to negotiate our own relationships with the people and world around us-will find that nonviolence does not work. a major aspect ofwhich isviolence. banks. until-well." People of color in the internal colonies of the US cannot defend themselves against police brutality or expropriate the means of survival to free themselves from economic servitude. It ignores that violence is already here. The elite cannot be persuaded by appeals to their conscience. Only if they remain civilians will their deaths be counted and mourned by white peace activists who will. whereas the use of a diversity of tactics got results. Individuals who do change their minds and find a better morality will be fired." and if that movement does not realize and exercise the power that makes it a threat. until such time as the Great White Father is swayed by the movement's demands or the pacifists achieve that legendary "critical mass. it cannot change a system based on centralized coercion and violence. they believe. if a movement is not a threat. and less extreme examples from India to Birmingham. will continue to call the shots.~ PETER GEillERLOOS matter. another 500 years) under the shadow of genocide. Besides the fact that the typical pacifist is quite clearly white and middle class. slowly dying off on marginal lands. destroy the infrastructure and culture of centralized pow­ er to make impossible the subjugation of the many to the few). change will surely come. include a diversity of tactics. preferably. They must wait for enough people of color who have attained more economic privilege (the "house slaves" of Malcolm X's analysis') and conscientious white people to gather together and hold hands and sing songs. Realizing that nonviolence has never actually produced historical victories toward revolutionary goals opens the door to considering other serious faults of nonviolence. the Allied governments whose bombers could easily have reached Auschwitz and other camps) failed to shut down or destroy a single extermination camp before the end of the war. recalled.

"I'm not even in it. much less at the head of it. and Gandhi." I would especially refer to those who counsel. As he pointed out: Apart from bigots and backlashers. led to more violence. Over the past several years. at least subconsciously." And Old Tom said. he would not be allowed to speak. I was there. Nonviolence declares that the American Indians could have fought off Columbus. Nonviolence refuses to recognize that it can only work for privileged people. When they found out this black steamroller was going to come down on the capital. scared the white power structure in Washington. noncooperating. was Malcolm X's perspective. the white-supremacist ruling class. even while "claiming the mantle" of Martin Luther King Jr. George Washington.'s "1 Have a Dream" speech. respectively) where there was no nonviolent alternative. the civil rights-era March on Washington is associated first and foremost with Martin Luther King Jr. that Crazy Horse. they called in." I am often in­ clined to think that they are more of a stumbling block to the Negro's progress than the White Citizen's Counciler [sic) or the Ku Klux Klanner. so perhaps they need to organize a demonstration or two to win the attention and sympathy of the powerful. Nelson Mandela was too." And it must be added that privileged white people were instru­ mental in appointing activists such as Gandhi and King to positions of leadership on a national scale. engage in Gandhian noncooperation? But wait-a majority of them are already unem­ ployed. It scared the white man to death. Among white activists and. It was the grassroots out there in the street. but at least as influential to black people. that nonviolence is an absurdly privileged position. and that those who mutinied were as bad as their captors. and all the other genocidal butchers with sit-ins. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and was "as bad as" Custer. so they make frequent usage of race by taking activists of color out of their contexts and selectively using them as spokespersons for nonviolence. that / ! mutiny. Pacifists must know." Kennedy said. not co­ incidentally.. clearly prioritizing goals over particular tactics. until it dawned on white paci­ fists that Mandela used nonviolence selectively. as articulated in his speech criticizing the march's leadership. "Look. I have been gravely disappointed with such white "moderates. "Boss. I wonder at men who dare to feel that they have some paternalistic right to set the timetable for an­ other man's liberation." I'm telling you what they said. who have a status protected by violence. Mostly absent from the white consciousness. They said. resis­ I tance led to more enslavement. "Wait!" and to those who say that they sympathize with our goals but cannot condone our methods of direct-action in pursuit of those goals. Or maybe they could go on strike. have stopped the slave trade with hunger strikes and petitions. a form of violence. as the perpetrators and beneficiaries of a \ violent hierarchy. "Call it off. by us­ ing violent resistance. and." They said. "These Negroes are doing things on their I 24 I I 25 I .these national Negro leaders that you respect and told them. Z Even Gandhi and King agreed it was necessary to support armed liberation movements (citing as examples those in Palestine and Vietnam.' One gets the impression that if Martin Luther King Jr. and that he ac­ tually was involved in liberation activities such as bombings and preparation for armed uprising. I must say. But the mostly white pacifists of today erase this part of the history and re-create nonviolence to fit their comfort level. it seems to be a malady even among those whites who like to regard themselves as "enlightened. fully excluded from the functioning of the system. I can't stop it because I didn't start it. were to come in disguise to one of these pacifist vigils. became part of the cycle of violence.PETER GElDrRLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST ~/ (!j" not a priority right now. you all are letting this thing go too far. to death. DC. Nonviolence declares that Africans could . are turned into representatives for all people of color.. thus.

including SNCC chairman John Lewis. Darren Parker. and.PETP. and advocated solidarity with the armed struggle of the Vietnamese. I'll welcome it. though in his case a more Orwellian method (assassinate. it is Malcolm X who "might have been such a 'messiah. at a critical time. with clowns and all. 1 I 26 I I 27 I . took it over.R GflDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST own. They joined it." and his cliched prescriptions for feel-good."7 The fact that Malcolm X was singled out by the FBI as a major threat raises the possibility of state involvement with his assassination.. In an internal memo. after all." certainly other nonpacifist black activists.. I'll put you at the head of it." Meanwhile. You assume that everyone who is coming has the mentality of a three-vear-old. and co-opt) is used. which are the majority of the things he said and wrote.'? And despite their absurdly dispro­ portionate professions of devotion to him (there were. were censored to take out threats of armed struggle and criticisms of the government's civil rights bill. what signs to carry. it ceased to be hot. he said. assist the state in assassinating Malcolm X (and similar revolutionaries).:" Demonstrators received premade protest signs with government-approved slogans. They're running ahead of us. In the words of Bayard Rustin. In effect. white activists.They controlled it so tight. it even ceased to be a march.. and then told them to get out of town by sundown. "If you all aren't in it. According to the FBI.. what speech they could make. and he was recognized as such by the movement itself and by government forces charged with destroying the move­ ment.became part of it. Malcolm X was extremely influential on the black libera­ tion movement... It became a picnic. one of the chief organizers of the march." And that old shrewd fox. It ceased to be angry." Thus King's more disturbing (to white people) criticism of rac­ ism is avoided. And as they took it over. non­ violent activism are repeated ad nauseum.. just as Malcolm X described. allowing white pacifists to cash in on an authoritative cultural resource to confirm their nonviolent activism and prevent the acknowledgement of the rac­ ism inherent in their position by associating themselves with a noncontroversial black figurehead. it ceased to be uncompromising. they told those Negroes what time to hit town. writes.. This is what they did at the march on Washington. Why. where to stop.' The end result of the march was to invest significant movement resources. it lost its militancy.. It was a takeover.. spoke of anti-capitalist revolution.. a black activist and consultant to grassroots groups whose criticisms have contributed to my own understanding of nonviolence. They perform the cleaner half of the job. they similarly help assassinate Martin Luther King [r. never get quoted. The number of times people quote King is one of the most off-putting things for most black folk because they know how much his life was focused on the race struggle. in an ultimately pacifying event. "You start to organize a mass march by making an ugly assumption. the FBI addresses the need to prevent the rise of a black "messiah" as part of its Counter Intelligence Pro­ \ gram. Though he enjoys comparatively little attention in mainstream histories. Nothing but a circus. in disappearing his memory and erasing him from history. I'll put you in it..' he is the martyr of the movement today. particularly those interested in mini­ mizing the role of militant and armed struggle. it was a sellout. the whole crowd was told to leave as soon as possible. who were identified by the FBI as particularly effective organizers. a circus. what song to sing. at the end. reformulate. I'll endorse it. the speeches of several protest lead­ ers. were targeted for elimination by means including assassination. No. you tend to wonder why the parts critical of white people. was allowed his celebrity and influence until he became more radical..and when you actually read King. a few other people who took part in the civil rights movement).. and what speech they couldn't make. Martin Luther King Jr.

their veterans are not dead or imprisoned (excepting three victims of an early explosives­ making accident and those who left Weather to fight along­ side members of the Black Liberation Army). they are living comfortably as academics and professionals. the white activists place themselves as the teachers and guides. It is impossible to claim support for. Other white organizations. Interestingly. Of course. there is a Eurocentric uni­ versalism in the idea that we are all part of the same homogeneous struggle and white people at the heart of the Empire can tell people of color and people in the (neo)colonies the best way to resist. The people most affected by a system of oppression should be at the forefront of the struggle against that particular oppression. When­ ever white pacifists concern themselves with a cause that affects people of color. in denial of the importance of race. because the imperative of nonviolence overrides the basic respect of trusting people to liberate themselves. or black resistance group that pops up. denouncing them as "not anarchist. The point is not that white activists. in part because they viewed themselves as a vanguard and the black groups as ideological competitors. ortho­ dox method of struggle. the American Indian Movement. and the Vietcong are actively ignored in favor of a homoge­ neous picture of anti-racist struggle that acknowledges only those segments that do not contradict the relatively comfortable vision of revolution preferred mostly by white radicals. one of socially guaranteed safety." much the way a government aid agency operates. Latino." rather than supporting their most anti-authoritarian elements. the Brown Berets. One of the problems of the Weather Underground is that they were claiming to fight alongside black and Viet­ namese people. and other contextual factors." yet pacifism again and again produces organizations and movements of white people illuminating the path and leading the way to save brown people. and resisters among the affected people of color do not conform to the particular definition of nonviolence in use. such as the Liberation Support Movement. The result is that these hard-core (and. Today. much less solidarity with. in order to be anti-racist. Claims of support and solidarity become even more pretentious when white pacifists draft rules of acceptable tactics and impose them across the move­ ment. A white supremacist system punishes the resistance of people of color more harshly than the resistance of white people. difficult to relinquish. need to uncritically support any Asian. people of color in their struggles when unavoidably significant groups such as the Black Panther Party. indigenous.!' Militant white anarchists in North America today exhibit similar tendencies. symbolic bombings and disdained actions likely to put their own lives at risk. voicing support but withhold­ ing any material aid.PETER Gill)ERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST Pacifists' revising of history to remove examples of militant struggles against white supremacy cannot be divorced from a rac­ ism that is inherent in the pacifist position. Accordingly. so they stick to militant postures and the violence of ideological hairsplitting. racism encour­ ages passivity. The Weather Underground and other militant white groups of the 1960s and 70s did a horrible job of extending solidarity to the black liberation movement. armchair) anarchists can find no real (and dangerous) resistance worthy of their support. even among militant white activists. Militant white activists can and do incur similar problems when they disrespect allies of color by dictating the appropriate. class background. at the same time. this is largely a function of whiteness (a socially constructed worldview taught diffusively to all people identified by society as "white"). used their support to exercise control over the anti-colonial lib­ eration movements they claimed to be acting in solidarity with. but this was just posturing-they conducted harmless. Many of the most vocal disdain ongoing liberation struggles. Even white activists who have made ourselves aware of the dynamics of racism find the resulting privilege. those who challenge I 28 I I 29 I . creating a dynamic that is remarkably colonial. However.

safe. They preach nonviolence to the people at the bottom of the racial and economic hierarchy precisely because nonviolence is ineffec­ tive. she stated that she did not support the practice of non­ violence. and any revolution launched 'by those people. one white peace activist wrote back to me that she was surprised that I 30 I I 31 I .. 'and lambasted the casual. moral superiority to) the forces of state power.PETER GElDERLCXlS NONVIOilNCE ISRACIST white supremacy directly and militantly will seem threatening to us. entertaining. Dr. even of being a protest. six-month-maximum prison sentence. Dr. sexism. in pointing out the racism they witnessed. Eventually. Elevated by white and Black elites to the heights of social ac­ ceptance. One black woman was particularly incensed at an experience she had had while taking a bus down to the Fort Benning vigil with other anti-SOA activists. They spoke against the white pacifists' privileged. will be unable to fully unseat white people and rich people from their privileged positions.but practiced the human right of self-defense . King's message of Christian forbearance and' his turn-the-other-cheek doctrine were calming to the white psyche. When I related this story and the other criticisms made by people of color during the discus­ sion to a listserv of SOAW-affiliated former prisoners (after serv­ ing a fully voluntary.. emphasizing their own victimization by (and. During a conversation with a white activist. To Americans bred for comfort. capitalist system. School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) activists organized an anti-oppression discussion during their an­ nual pacifist vigil outside Fort Benning Army Base (which houses the School of the Americas. That activist then told her she was "on the wrong bus" and did not belong at the protest. kept returning to forms of oppression practiced by some external force-the police keeping an eye on the vigil. or the military subjugating people in Latin America. Instead. classism. It was quite apparent that self-criticism (and -improvemenr) was an unde­ sirable option. white." In November 2003. people at the discussion. nonviolence requires that activists attempt to influence the power structure. above all. The Party was not a civil rights group. was against the organization's practice of pacifism. a military-training school prominently connected to human-rights abuses in Latin America). middle-class participants (by far the dominant demographic at the explicitly nonviolent vigil) to focus on oppressive dynamics (such as racism. comfortable take on activism.. hence.. Perhaps their major criti­ cism.The Black Panther Party made (white) Americans feel many things. which means that privileged people. who have better access to power. they gave themselves the honorific title "prisoner of conscience"). The Black Panther Party was the antithesis of Dr. Mumia Abu-Jamal writes: The accolades and bouquets of late-20th-century Black struggle were awarded to veterans of the civil rights struggle epitomized by the martyred Rev.. Martin Luther King Jr. 16 White pacifists (and even bourgeois black pacifists) are afraid of the total abolition of the white supremacist. with its pretensions of being revolutionary. thus. celebratory attitude of the protest. self-proclaimed pacifists.. which requires that they approach it. Dr. Even strains of nonviolence that seek to abolish the state aim to do so by trans­ forming it (and converting the people in power). but safe wasn't one of them. the preferable alternative was to focus on the faults of a violent other. a number of veteran activists of color who attended the discussion were able to move attention to the many forms of racism within the anti-SOA milieu that prevented it from attracting more sup­ port from nonprivileged populations. King was. King. The orga­ nizers of the discussion had a difficult time getting the white." provided it remains nonviolent. particularly older. and transphobia) within the organiza­ tion and among activists associated with SOAW's anti-militarist efforts. will retain control of any movement as the gatekeepers and intermediaries who allow the masses to "speak truth to power.

I charged that the US anti-war movement deserved to share the blame in the deaths of three million Vietnamese for being so accommodating to state power. Rather than supporting and aiding the Panthers. unless strictly within the rubric of a white activist-organized protest. this is integral to the pacifist position. " . A pacifist." People of color engaged in politically motivated property destruction. George Lakey.f Beneath their frequent and manipulative usage of people of color as figureheads and tame spokespersons. but accept the morality of repression as natural and untouchable? This idea of the inevitable repressive consequences of militancy frequently goes beyond hypocrisy to outright victim-blaming and approval of repressive violence. the protective covering of "nonviolence. the Berrigans. David Dellinger. the teachers of pacifism are primarily white (for example. but nol) Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese leadership for practicing armed struggle. in The Nation. appropriately enough. not portrayed as conscientious. Well. white pacifists found it more fashionable to state that they had "provoked violence" and "brought this on themselves. Just as criminals deserve repression and punishment. denied consideration as activists. When we mention riots. Gene Sharp. and the legacy of the civil rights movernent. such as the police assassinations of Panther organizers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.PETER Gff. are banished to the realm of violence. and Chris­ tian Peacemaker responded to my charge by stating that the blame belonged with (I expected him to say the US military alone." A book popular among US pacifists states that "America has more often been the teacher than the student of the nonviolent ideal. and why aren't those who claim to be against violence trying to uri-justify it? Why do nonviolent activists seek to change society's morality in how it views oppression or war. relies solely on white sources. The racism of the judicial system. recommended by a pacifist anti-SOA activist to nonpacifist activists who doubted pacifism's strategic depth. anarchist." (Either this pacifist considers the Vietnamese people unable to have made the highly popular step toward vio- £[«v: . a major and violent compo­ nent of our society. has had a major impact on the American psyche. and AJ Muste). pacifists follow a tactical and ideological framework formulated almost exclusively by white theorists. An article espousing nonviolence published. "justice"-as their own).V' More recently. to whom is this violent repression justified. but a stock argument common among pacifists is that revolutionaries should not use violence because the state will then use this to "justify" violent repression. at the previously mentioned anarchist confer­ ence. and a chief purpose of both concepts is to establish blame."20 Pacifists would also do well to examine the color of violence. Violence and criminality are nearly interchangeable concepts (consider how comfortable pacifists are in using the terminology of statist mo­ rality-for example. Victim-blaming was a key part of pacifist discourse. They may deny believing that anyone deserves to have violence used against them. people who use violence deserve the inevitable karmic violent consequences." Another article on nonviolence. strategy even. but do not usually lose. drops Gandhi's name like a banner but primarily quotes white activists and scholars to articulate a more precise strategy. Dorothy Day. whom do we envision? White activists committing property destruction as a form of civil disobedience may stretch. Whereas revolutionary activists are hard-pressed to find white theorists with anything relevant to say regarding the methods of militant struggle. People of color who are oppressed with police and structural violence every day are counseled against responding with violence because that would justify the state violence already mobilized against them. in the 1960s and 70s. in spite of Martin Luther King Jr.r I 32 I I 33 I .DERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISRACrsr a black woman would be ideologically opposed to nonviolence. when many white activists helped justify state actions and neutral­ ize what could have become anti-government outrage at violent state repression of black and other liberation movements. though one rarely prioritized for opposition by pacifists.

By preaching nonviolence. The appearance of nonviolence. in fact. one of the major activities of the Ku Klux Klan in the years following the Civil War was to disarm the entire black population of the South. a reflection of the triumph of a previous violence. black resistance gave birth to hip-hop. itself gained and preserved through all sorts of economic and government violence. ostracizing those who do. enslaving. and in so many other histories of racial oppression. end up doing the work of the white supremacist power structure whether they mean to or not. white-owned businesses) capitalize and purchase. In the power dynamic described in this brief historical sketch. gays. pro-government agenda centered around voter registration. and others had violently resisted the Holocaust. 2s Today. In fact. stealing any weapons they could find from newly "freed" black people. The pacification.NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST PEm GaDERLOOS lent resistance themselves. a factor that contributed to its collapse. the police retain their weapons. is also excluded from the movement's self-narrative and understanding of its own his- I 34 I I 35 I . were instrumental to the government's "bullet and ballot" strategy in isolating and destroying militant black activists and manipulat­ ing the remainder to support a weakened. and pacifists who think themselves allies urge black people not to re-arm themselves. if they are to have any role. the cultural power of white elites. which regularly terrorized black people as a form of control. while channeling the anger from generations of abuse into cycles of violence within black communities. and for-profit media (that is. which have been protected by the disarming of black people and enriched by their evolving slavery. Robert Williams provided an alternative to this legacy of dis­ armament. and. and lynching black people in the first place. The massive interpersonal violence of the Klan created a material shift that is maintained by systematized and less visible police violence.) One gets the impression that if more Gypsies. his story is left out of the dominant narrative found in state-sanctioned school textbooks. At the same time. is used to co-opt black culture to foster a celebration of some of the same ideological constructs that justi­ fied kidnapping. rather than allowing it to foment violence against the all-too-deserving authorities.)" A century earlier. and both the Klan and modem US police forces have roots in the antebellum slave patrols. the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) got paid by the government for their services. Jews. in the case of black people not arming themselves or advocating struggle against police. the Klan has fallen into the background. A generation after the failure of the civil rights movement. wax pacifist and decry the prevalence of lyrics about shooting (back at) cops. people who insist on nonviolence among the oppressed. In fact." (And the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was largely dependent on the donations of wealthy liberal benefactors. the Klan acted largely as a paramilitary force for the state in times of unrest. through nonviolence. in what might be described as the original policy of racial profiling. pacifists would find it convenient to blame that little phenomenon on the absence of an exclusively pacifist opposition as well. is. clothing manufacturers. The celebrated civil rights leaders. including King. Hip-hop artists bonded to the major record labels largely abandon the glorification of anti-state violence and replace it with an increase in the more fashionable violence against women. or he blames them as well. white activists who think they are concerned about racism are actually enacting a paternalistic re­ lationship and fulfilling the useful role of pacifying the oppressed. which it lost when it adopted a more militant stance. with the security of the racial hierar­ chy assured. often with the assistance of the police. which mainstream cultural forces such as the recording mdilstry. if proponents of nonviolence have anything to say about it. These capitalist cultural forces. of people of color intersects with the preference of white supremacist power structures to disarm the oppressed. Sadly. and abandoning to state repression those who do not listen obediently.

it mak'. MEND. "29 \. makes things more peaceful in North America.. While conditions in the region are terrible.a-deansingforce.andiromhi. and Europe). Beginning in 1957. Curiously. have those of us not faced with daily police intimidation. But beyond the strategic neces­ sity of attacking the state with all means available to us. 26 It is exactly these stories of empowerment that white pacifists ignore or blot out. Williams influenced the formation of other armed self-defense groups. Food Not Bombs is offering a nonviolent solution. bombs are not a good way to improve conditions. Nonviolence in the hands of white people has been and continues to be a colonial enterprise. Food Not Bombs failed to mention the bombing. 2006.is. North Carolina.s~l. if nonviolence were implemented among Nigerians that would surely avert the government's "crisis" and bring oil prices back down. Robert Williams armed the NAACP chapter in Monroe. the majority-white anti-authoritarian group which serves free food in public places through one hundred chapters (mostly in North America. And while there is no evidence that the "nonviolent solution" they say they are "offering" will do anything to free Nigerians from the exploitation and oppression they suffer. This March Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry and local Nigerian volunteer Yinka Dada visited the people suffering in the shadow of Nigeria's oil refineries. velvet-padded chains for freedom. and expect people of color to exercise privileges they don't actually have.!r~. .. It frees the native-frorn histnfenority comvkx.sgespair and inaction." The Food Not Bombs call for support condemned the actions of the rebel militia. about the psychology of colonialism and of violence in pursuit of liberation.sJlisself. Faced with the total repression of the white supremacist system. On April 20. while white dissidents instruct the natives in how to run their resistance. by the Nigerian military under President Obasanjo. it should be no surprise or controversy at all that "the \ colonized man finds his freedom in and through violence. which grew to include fifty chapters throughout the South that protected black communities and civil rights work­ ers. White elites instruct the natives in how to run their economies and governments. which is seeking autonomy for the Ijaw people of the Niger Delta and an end to the destructive oil industry (whereas FNB "welcomed Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo's announcement of new jobs in the Delta Region" from oil revenues).ci' I 36 I I 37 I . It's understandable that people are frustrated that the profits of their resources are enriching foreign companies while their environment is polluted and they live in poverty. Some of us are further mistaken in assuming that all people face these same circumstances. and subordination considered the uplifting effect of forcefully fighting back! Frantz Fanon writes. while they condemned the kidnapping. sexual. MEND had kidnapped several foreign (US and European) oil-company employees to demand an end to government repression and corporate exploitation (the hostages were released unharmed). Australia. to repel attacks from the Ku Klux Klan and the police." to use 1~'j1 the words of Frantz Fanon.~~~ fearless r~. and governmental structures).NONVIOlENCEISRACIST PETER GEillERLOOS tory. and the shameless efforts of a dissident elite to exploit and control the rage of the oppressed. the doctor from Martinique who authored one of the most important works on the struggle against co­ v lonialisrn" Most white people have enough privilege and latitude that we may mistake these generously long. The crisis in Nigeria has contributed to oil prices hitting a record $72 a barrel. degradation.. a co-founder of Food Not Bombs (FNB). sent out a call for support for the new FNB chapter in Nigeria.respe~t. I suppose. of several Ijaw vil­ lages believed to support MEND.. economic. so we comfortably agitate within the parameters of democratic society (the borders of which are composed of violently enforced racial. "At the level of indivi vio­ lence [as a part of liberation struggle . which.r . including the Deacons for De­ fense and Justice. the obvious uselessness of the political process.

whether individuals have faced the possibility of having to fight back to survive or to improve their lives depends largely on the color of their skin and their place in various national and global hierarchies of oppres­ sion. for the dissidents. When Oglala traditionals and the American Indian Movement stood up on Pine Ridge Reserva­ tion in the 1970s to assert a little independence and to organize against the endemic bullying of the imposed "tribal govern­ ment. chances are our self-criticism has fallen asleep on the job. suggesting that the fighting and dying be carried out by people of color in the more overtly oppressive states of the Global South. FBI." I have a hard time believing that their aversion to violence has as much to do with principles as with privilege and ignorance. while privileged citizens of the imperial centers I 38 I I 39 I . (Those who have ever condemned the violent resistance of people who have grown up in more oppres- sive circumstances than themselves should think about this the next time they eat a banana or drink a cup of coffee. When we understand that privileged people derive material benefits from the exploitation of oppressed people. and people from the Global South have advocated nonviolence (though typically such pacifists come from more privileged strata of their communities). only through a highly active sense of superiority can white activists judge and condemn oppressed people who do not do so.as. or even support. of a nonviolent spirit is much easier to attain when one is not the direct recipient of the injustice and may in fact simply rep­ resent psychological distance. "The principle of armed self-defense had. And beyond mere self-defense. and Bureau of Indian Affairs instituted a full-fledged counterinsurgency program that resulted in daily violence and dozens of deaths." the Pentagon. The culturally sensitive alternative within pacifism is that privileged activists allow. US Marshals. say. but when that analysis rests on a dubious moral high ground and a conveniently selective interpretation of what constitutes violence. poor people. and though they may hold up their Oscar Romeros. however. To quote Darren Parker again.) I hope it is well understood that the government uses more violent forms of repression against people of color in resistance than against white people. they and their families have not personally had their survival threatened as a result of their activism. at least. in."30 Yes.. regardless of privilege.this case white people. and possibly in the internal colonies of the Euro/American states.of privileged people.PETER GELDI'RLOOS NONVIOl£NCE ISRACIST But proponents of nonviolence who come from privileged backgrounds. "31 The only proponents of nonviolence I have ever heard reject even the legitimacy of self-defense have been white. Accord­ ing to Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall. do not grow up with an in­ feriority complex violently pounded into them. we cannot sin­ cerely condemn them for violently rebelling against the structural violence that privileges us.le?!ions. militant resistance in the Global South. True.. who espouse nonviolence. with material and psychological comforts guaran­ teed and protected by a violent order.to the sincer­ it¥. After all. The arrogance of pacifists' assumption that they can dictate which forms of struggle are moral and effective to people who live in far different. And the benign relationship of privileged people to global systems of viol~nce s~~ai~e.~!i()JJs. and only advocate nonviolence to people with a similarly privileged background. and that this means we benefit from the violence used to keep them down. This formulation presents a new racism. become a necessity of survival. people of color. we should be able to trust our own analysis. World Bank economists who dictate "good" agricultural practices to Indian farmers who have inherited centuries-old agricultural tradi­ tions. it's much easier to 'Love thy enemy' when they are not actually your enemy. Suburban white peoplewho lecture children of the [enin refugee camp or the Colombian kill­ ing fields on resistance bear a striking similarity to.. far more violent circumstances is astounding.ql. "The appearance. It is these experiences that nonviolence ignores by treating violence as a moral issue or a chosen thing.

American Indians ready. willing. proponents of militancy must understand that there is a great need for caution when we discuss tactics. The contradiction in ostensibly revolutionary pacifism is that revolution is never safe. "I'm not saying that we would not support civil disobedience."35 And on a listserv for a radical environmental campaign in 2004. "Whites had something to protect. in this example. after inviting an open discus­ sion of tactics. The thinking is that Palestinians. Thus. one of the other law students on the list) agreed. especially via e-mail." Thus. which is assuaged only when it is subordinated to a nonviolent ethic. may engage in militant struggle because they live under a violent regime."34 The pacifist desire for safety continues today. "That has been part of the peace movement that church people have engaged in." Woldt said. Ward Churchill quotes a pacifist organizer during the Vietnam era who denounced the revolutionary tactics of the Black Panther Party and Weather Underground because those tactics were "a really dangerous thing for all of us. to build an anti-authoritarian." This is the "not in my backyard" tendency. incidentally. cooperative. Also present is the latent fear of racial uprising. not getting hurt. and able to take their land back is a trifle disturbing."37 Of course.. and familiarity with. appropriate resistance to a regime that wages war against colonized people across the globe is to bring the war home. a non­ violent activist reassured a Seattle newspaper about the character of planned protests. and to extend support to oppressed people in resistance without under­ mining the sovereignty of their struggle. but we are not into property damage or anything that creates negative consequences for US. who is serving an effective life sentence for his actions as a member of the Weather Underground who went on to support the Black Liberation Army. to quote David Gilbert. However. In making the connection between pacifism and the self-preservation of privileged activists. the two I 40 I I 41 I . requires white people to recognize that the violence against which people of color must defend themselves originates in the white "First World. not giving anyone a bitter pill to swallow. and that we face the hurdle of building support for actions that are more likely to get us harassed or imprisoned. for example. In 2003." She was also concerned that "two of us will be facing the star chamber of the ethics committee of the Bar Association sometime in the near future. American Indians holding a press conference is laudable.they run the very real risk of bringing the same sort of violent repression [as seen in the police assassination of Fred Hampton] down on all of us. An anti-racist analysis. and anti-racist culture among white people.")) Or. revolutionaries of color on the home front is limited to inert martyrs-the dead and the imprisoned. to attack institutions of imperialism.. on the other hand. pacifism is about staying safe. Black people with guns evokes the violent crime reports on the nightly news. However. a law student and activist. but for the brutalized residents of the nearest urban ghetto to form guerrilla units would be "inappropriate" or "irresponsible. but to the vast majority of its practitioners and advocates. It was comfortable to be at the peak of a morally prestigious movement for change while Black people were taking the main casualties for the struggle. even if all we do is discuss them. "I think that having a discussion about violent tactics on this list is playing with fire. white peoples' support for. advocated an end to the mention of nonpacifist tactics and demanded a sttict adherence to nonviolence on the grounds that nonpacifist groups "get annihilated.DERLOOS NONVIOUNCE ISRACIST may be contented with more contextually appropriate forms of resistance such as protest rallies and sit-ins. which is fueled by the recogni­ tion that a revolution there would be exciting.PETl'R Gfl. not alienating anyone."36 Another ac­ tivist (and. Black people marching is pho­ togenic. adding. and it is putting everyone at risk. but a revolution here would deprive privileged activists of our comfort. nonabsolutist pacifists who allow for a little cultural relativism are typically less likely to support armed revolution when the fighting gets close to home.

and others. and it does not always make sense for people without white privilege or for white people attempting to destroy the system of privilege and oppression. Rather than "putting themselves in harm's way" to protect members of the black. Worse still. which in certain circumstances has been an effective way to stay safe in the face of violent discrimination. they were saying that the group should discuss only nonviolent tactics." used by white dissidents or government officials to manipulate the movement for their comfort. Race is essential to our experience of oppression and of resistance. Many people of color have also used nonviolence. than the kind of nonviolence preserved in North America today. one that comes out of the experiences of white people. Chicano/Mexican. and more confronta­ tional and dangerous. were white radicals "really ready to embark on a revolution. Movements of people of color peacefully pursuing revolutionary goals have tended to use a form of nonviolence that is less absolute. and assassination of Black Panthers. and which people live in violent circumstances whether they want to or not? Generally. massacres. there has been a long history of betrayal by white pacifists who have condemned and abandoned revolutionary groups to state violence. American Indian Movement activists.) Revered pacifist David Dellinger admits that "one of the factors that induces serious revolutionaries and discouraged ghetto-dwell­ ers to conclude that nonviolence is incapable of being developed into a method adequate to their needs is this very tendency of pacifists to line up. or European set­ tlers on other continents. is proof of the ineffectiveness of liberationists' tactics. or even genocide. with the status quO. the practice of nonviolence is often subsidized by whites in power. imprisonment."38 David Gilbert concludes that "failure to develop solidarity with the Black and other liberation struggles within the US (Native American. they are claiming that the liberationists' ultimate defeat. Because of the weighty self-interest of white people in prevent­ ing revolutionary uprisings in their own backyard. nonviolence proves to be tangled up with dynamics of race and power. is still common today. Since it had been billed as a discussion to help the group create ideological common ground. one that did not prize whiteness?"40 At first. while seeking limited reforms that do not ultimately change the distribution of power in society. But which people in this world have the privilege to choose violence. which pacifists facilitated. nonviolence seems like a clear moral position that has little to do with race. A long standing component of racism has been the assumption that Europeans. have known what is best for people they I 42 I I 43 I . And even then. The use of nonviolence by people of color has generally been a com­ promise to a white power structure. some people have chosen to use nonviolent tactics to forestall extreme repression. nonviolence is a privileged prac­ tice. On inspection.PEm GflDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST law students were not saying that the group should discuss only legal tactics or hypothetical tactics. this was a manipulative way of using threats of government repres­ sion to prevent the group from even considering anything other than an explicitly nonviolent philosophy. in moments of conflict. brown. within the movement or society at large. they encouraged the state repression and claimed that the revolutionar­ ies deserved it by engaging in militant resistance. and usually abandoned by large portions of the grass­ roots in favor of more militant tactics. (Nowadays. conscientious pacifists ignored the brutalization. Puerto Rican) is one of the several factors that caused our movement to fall apart in the mid-70s. Recognizing that the white power structure prefers the oppressed to be nonviolent. and red liberation movements (a protection their privilege might have adequately conferred because of how costly it would have been for the government to murder afflu­ ent white people in the midst of all the dissension spurred by heavy losses in Vietnam). The use of nonviolence to preserve white privilege. This view is based on the simplistic assump­ tion that violence is first and foremost something that we choose."39 Mumia Abu-Jamal questions.

patriarchal order. and that many activists urging militancy are.' States. they argue. In other words. in fact. Some pacifists obscure this mutual relationship by claiming that the government would just love to see them abandon their nonviolent discipline and give in to violence. and. Stat~s~t1le'Cffit~alized bureaucracies Put quite plainly. Pacifists do NONVIOLENCE IS the state's work by pacifying the op­ S T A T I S T position in advance.PEITR GELDERLOOS considered "less civilized. Although in some instances the US government has used infiltrators to encourage resistance groups to hoard weapons or plan violent actions (for example. White radicals must educate other white people about why people of color are justified in rebelling violently and why we too should use a diversity of tactics to free ourselves. and implement imperialist expansion-survive by assuming the role of the sole legitimate purveyor of violent force within their territory. 1 ! 3 I 44 I I 45 I . and end these global systems of oppression and exploitation. for their part. it becomes our duty to build our own militant culture of resistance. we have a great deal to learn from the struggles of people of color. preserve a white supremacist. that the government even encourages violence from dissidents. in the cases of the Molly Maguires and Jonathan Jackson's attempted courthouse strike"). a critical distinction must be made. discourage militancy within the opposition. and in nearly all other instances. contrary to the role of teacher historically self-appointed to white people. government provocateurs. the fact that much of the violence faced by people of color around the world originates in the power structure that privileges white people should lend white people greater urgency in pushing the boundaries for the level of militancy that is considered acceptable in white communities. for those of us who are white. sures-aitit~-~n~RQIL2~lence." People fighting against racism must unmistakably end this tradition and recognize that the impera­ tive for each community to be able to determine its own form of resistance based on its own experiences leaves any priority given to pacifism in the dust. and encourage passivity. The government only encour­ ages violence when it is sure that the violence can be contained and will not get out of hand. causing a militant resis­ tance group to act prematurely or walk into a trap eliminates the group's potential for violence by guaranteeing an easy life sentence or allowing authorities to sidestep the judicial process and kill off the radicals more quickly. it is the militant activists who are playing into the hands of the state.' Thus. nonviolence en- \ that protect capitalism. the authorities pacify the population and discourage violent rebellion. Furthermore. Any strug­ gle against oppression necessitates a conflict with the state. struggle in solidarity with all who have rejected their place as the lackeys or slaves of the elite. In the end. On the whole.

imprisoned. that phrase refers to a specificoperation. Even since the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. and ineffective channels. rather than actual. modern "democratic" governments treat nonviolent so­ cial movements with revolutionary goals as potential. as seen in the arrests of over a dozen alleged ELF/ALF members. Puerto Ricans. the FBI had named the saboteurs and arsonists of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) as the greatest domestic terrorism threats. On the other hand. and the FBI. communists. Republic of New Afrika. the state treats militant groups (those same groups pacifists deem ineffective) as actual threats and attempts to neutralize them with highly developed counterinsurgency and domestic warfare operations. During the last generation's liberation struggles. FBI-supported paramilitaries killed sixty American Indian Movement (AIM) ac­ tivists and supporters on the Pine Ridge Reservation alone. and not the overarching program). it should also be a goal of the Counterintelligence Program [in the original government lingo. Though the state always reserves the right to repress whomever it wishes. far less attention was given to the government's continuing repression of the Puerto Rican liberation movement. the FBI uses the term to include activists who were assassinated. Through counterintelligence it should be possible to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them before they exercisetheir potential for violence. and is. in the 1960s. framed." Vast resources were mobilized toward infiltrating and destroy­ ing militant revolutionary organizations during the COINTELPRO era. the FBI includes the following: Prevent violence on the part of black nationalist groups. or harassed until they ceased to I 46 I I 47 I . They spy on such movements to stay aware of de­ velopments. revealed to the pub­ lic only because in 1971 some activists broke into an FBI office in Pennsylvania and stole them.PETER GEillERLOOS NONVlOLfNCE ISSTATIST I \I There is a clear reason for this. the ELF and ALF have remained priorities for government repression. We can take their word for it. Nonviolent groups may be subjected to beatings. and paid agents killed dozens of members of the Black Panther Party. Prior to September 11. FBI COINTELPRO documents. Hundreds of union organizers. including the FBI assas­ sination of Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios. and the incarceration of several members of an above-ground animal rights group for hounding a vivisection company with an aggressive boycott-which the government has termed "animal enterprise terrorism."! And at a time when the Left was shocked that the police and military were spying on peace groups. anarchists. clearly demonstrate that a major objective of the FBI is to keep would-be revolutionaries passive. and others within US territorial purview still incurs violent repression. local police. In a list of five goals with regard to black nationalist and black libera­ tion groups. This is of primary importance. of course. a goal of our investiga­ tive activity. threats." But we need not infer the opinions and priorities of the state's security apparatus from the actions of its agents. and other groups. of which there were thousands. the Black Liberation Army. and they use a carrot-and-stick approach to herd such movements into fully peaceful. legal." In identifying successful "neutralizations" in other documents. and militant farmers were killed in the anti-capitalist struggles of the late 19th and early 20 th centuries. but such groups are not targeted for elimination (except by regressive governments or governments facing a period of emergency that threatens their stability). Any hint of militant organizing by colon~ peoples. discredited. the agreement of many of these pris­ oners to become snitches after one of them died in a suspicious suicide and all of them had been threatened with life sentences. even though these two groups had killed exactly zero people. governments everywhere recognize that unconstrained revolutionary activism poses the greater threat of changing the distribution of power in society. Contrary to the fatuous claims of pacifists that they somehow empower themselves by cutting out the greater part of their tactical options.

hard hats and helmets.!i£~. be politically active. banners. he is an extremely effective agitator." After smugly noting that Malcolm X could have fulfilled this role. destructive.:rtified as a major threat. scarves. and forms of passive resistance such as sit-ins [emphasis mine]. makes it clear whom the government identifies as extremists and prioritizes for neutralization. etc. -. e. demnation of violence and how pacifists effectively do the state's ~ <. the memo names three black leaders who have the potential to be that messiah.. sheets of plexiglass. Law enforcement officials should be alert to these possible indicators of protest activity and report any potentially illegal acts to the nearest FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. life jackets. devices used against mounted police units. as well as obscure one's identity. ~ ~ shows both how the state can count on knee-jerk pacifist con­ "'\. but is instead the martyr / of the movement. DC.~~~~le~~" clearly identified as activists employing a diversi~ . scuba masks. this one on American Indian Movement activist John Trudell. "TRUDELL has the ability to meet with a group of pacifists and in a short time have them yelling and screaming 'right-on!' In short."8 The government consistently demonstrates the unsurprising fact that it prefers to go up against a peaceful opposition. and the use of weapons-such as projectiles and homemade bombs. Activ­ ists may also use intimidation techniques such as videotaping and the swarming of police officers to hinder the arrest of other demonstrators.. sporting equipment. and sunglasses) can serve to minimize the effects of tear gas and pepper spray. 2003.-'--"""""" The bulk of the memo focuses on these 'e~~. as opposed to pacifist activists. etc. and subsequently leaked to the press.." On October 25. goggles. c'. activists are usually reluctant to coop­ erate with law enforcement officials. Another FBI memo.. The memo also lists the importance of pre­ venting the rise ofa black "messiah.. mass marches and rallies against the occupation in Iraq are scheduled to occur in Washington.. ~. militancy alienates people.. supposed 'obedience' to 'white..) and body protection equipment (layered clothing. an FBI memo sent to locallaw-enforcement agen­ cies across the country. shows the same understanding on the part of the state's political police that pacifists are an inert sort of dissident that do not yet pose a threat to the established order." k-. Masks (gas masks. The memo also explains the need I'. Traditional demonstration tactics by which protestors draw attention to their causes include marches. filter masks. They seldom carry any identification papers and often refuse to divulge any informa­ tion about themselves or other protestors. sponsible Negro community" and the "white community.~. According to the memo. and do nothing to attempt to coun­ \ ~ teract this phenomenon...[Tjhe possibility exists that elements of the activist community may attempt to en­ gage in violent.f. Extremist elements may engage in more aggressive tactics that can include vandalism. trespassing.. and San Francisco. California." This . extremists exhibit the following identifying characteristics. Much more recently.I / to go about discrediting militant blacks in the eyes of the "re­ " I. truck tire inner tubes." Instead.. or disruptive acts. Extremists may also employ shields (trash can lids.PElERGfLmRLOOS NONVIOUNCE ISSTATIST !' ~ . pacifists claim that \.qL!. work by failing to use their cultural influence to make militant .) to protect themselves during marches. who are not id. the formation of human chains or shields.. Extremists may be prepared to defend themselves against law enforcement officials during the course of a demonstration. physical harassment of delegates. I 48 I I 49 I .. resistance to tyranny "respectable. liberal doctrines' (nonviolence)" [parenthesis in the original]. After demonstrations.~~. . One of the three "could be / a very real contender for this position should he abandon his '-. makeshift barricades.

. the US military got caught interfering once again in the Iraqi news media (prior inter­ ference included bombing unfriendly media. it comes from the state. lulls pacifists into relying on state violence for protection. into hurt­ ing and oppressing one another." The articles were writ­ ten as though the authors were Iraqi in an attempt to rein in the militant resistance and manipulate Iraqis into diplomatic forms of opposition that would be easier to co-opt and control. listen to their own voice and begin committing outrages and setting fire to buildings. "This is very serious! We do not know how it will end.~~{yre that has claimed a rlr6nopo~:the righ. But why do pacifists? It is not as though I 50 I I 51 I . This time. before any regrettable act has been performed. For example. and how much responsibility do pacifists bear in creating this situation? In any case. he lowers his tail and signifies his harmlessness. into a cycle of violence.. pacifist organiz­ ers exempt the police from the "nonviolence codes" that are common at protests these days. they do not attempt to disarm the police who protect peace protestors from angry.~ou~~. releasing false stories. without wait­ ing for the chairs to be arranged around the baize table. the Pentagon was paying to insert articles in Iraqi newspapers urging unity (against the insurgents) and nonviolence. the government also injects pacifism into rebel movements more directly. through which dissidents This underlying comfort with the violence of the state. we must find a solution-some sort of cornpromise. A conquered populati~m is schooled in retain the goodwill of the state by signifying that they have not usurped powers the state exclusively claims (such as self-defense).v'! . the elite and the nationalist bourgeois par­ ties will be seen rushing to the colonialists to exclaim.PETER GflDERlOOS NONVIOLENCE ISSTATIST t j How sad is it that the surest mark of an "extremist" is a willing­ ness to defend oneself against attacks by the police. pro-war counterdernonstrators. The Pentagon's selective use of pacifism in Iraq can serve as a parable for the broader origins of nonviolence.of the . Namely. Frantz Fanon describes the origins and function of nonviolence within the decolonization process when he writes: The colonialist bourgeoisie] introduces that new idea which is in proper parlance a creation of the colonial situation: non­ violence. It is the accept{~""'oy-'the'cl1.d.h. As if it were not enough to discourage militancy and condition dissidents to use nonviolence through violent repression of the unruly. It is fairly obvious why the authorities would want radicals to remain vulnerable. pacifist morality demonstrates that it is more acceptable for radicals to rely on the violence of the government for protection than to defend themselves. by disowning and even denouncing activists who use a diversity of tactics. a pacifist behaves like a well-trained dog who is beaten by his master: rather than bite his attacker.. Thus is government safety.Non-violence is an attempt to settle the colonial problem around a green baize table.t to-use violence. In its simplest form this non-violence signifies to the intellectual and economic elite of the colonized country that the bourgeoisie has the same interests as they. be­ fore any blood has been shed. Only a people trained to accept being ruled by a violent power structure can really question sorneone's right and need to forcefully defend herself against oppression./ nonviol~~<:. Pacifism is also a form of learned helplessness.. But if the masses. combined with shock at the "outrages" of forceful rebellion. or they will descend into chaos. In practice.tatist belief that the masses must be stripped of their natural abilities for direct action. and slavery freedom. More immediately. and creating entirely new Arab-language media organizations such as al-Hurriyah that would be run by the Defense Department as a part of their psychological operations). In this way.~mp~we~. including the propensities for self-defense and the use of force.~~t. Two years after invading Iraq.~~. pacifists make such extremists vulnerable to the repression that police agencies clearly want to use against them.. resigning himself to the beatings in the hope that they stop.

instead of the National Guard. they beat and arrested several protestors and let the racist thugs get away. A colorful. accepting the premise that disarming and allowing a police monopoly on violent force would better ensure peace. and. Thus. Pacifists paint the state as benign by giving authority the chance to tolerate a criticism that does not actu­ ally threaten its continued operation. The result was an event now known as the Greensboro Massacre. While pacifists protesting US militarism can never get the police or National Guard to simply enforce the law-disarming weapons banned by international treaties or closing military schools that train soldiers in torture techniques-the government still benefits from allowing these futile demonstrations to take place. would pacifists remember desegregation as a failure for nonviolence if black families had needed to call in the Deacons for Defense. the white supremacists attacked the march and shot 13 people. most notably in the 1920s. When the police re­ turned to the scene. agreed to not carry weapons for protection. it certainly cannot exonerate the nonviolent position. Pacifists claiming to eschew violence helped to desegregate schools and universities throughout the South. While the police were conveniently absent.PETER GElDERLOOS NONVIOl£NCE ISSTATIST supporters of nonviolence have had a shortage of opportunities to learn what happens to defenseless radicals. right-wing para­ militaries such as the Ku Klux Klan are more than happy to elimi­ nate radicals. Such a protest is like I 52 I I 53 I . all without negating the racial hi­ erarchy so fundamental to US society. ultimately. and streamlined the economy. Let us only hope that if our movement once again poses a threat. The American Legion recently declared "war" on the anti-war movement. If pacifists are unable to defend their own gains. The police and FBI collaborated with the local Klan and Nazi Party to attack the demonstrators. killing five. nonviolent dissidents play the role of a loyal opposition in a performance that dramatizes dissent and creates the illusion that democratic government is not elitist or authoritarian. This situation has occurred in the past. as few of us as possible will be con­ strained by an ideology that leaves us dangerously vulnerable. Take for example the 1979 rally against white supremacy in Greensboro. but also to accomplish their goals. and right-wing paramilitaries lynch any "traitors" they can get their hands on." The debate between pacifism and a diversity of tactics (in­ cluding self-defense and counterattack) may end up being decided if the current anti-authoritarian movement ever develops to the point of posing a threat. North Carolina. to a lesser extent. If this reliance does not always lead to outright disasters like the Greensboro Massacre. in response to the civil rights movement. and Communists. to protect their children entering those all-white schools?) Institutional desegregation was deemed favorable to the white supremacist power structure because it de­ fused a crisis. but. labor organizers. It is not that hard to imagine a set of revolutionary goals that the National Guard would never be called in to protect. conscientious. not just to protect them. for surely only a just and humane military would tolerate protests outside its front gate. An assortment of black and white workers. passive protest in front of a military base only improves the PR image of the military. proponents of nonviolence frequently rely on the violence of the state. Permitting nonviolent protest improves the image of the state. increased possibilities for co-opting black leadership." That organization's history of lynching anarchist labor organizers suggests the means they'll use when their beloved flag is threatened. Despite this history of repression. who were relying on police protection." In the chaos of any revolutionary situation. it was armed units of the National Guard that allowed the first black students to enter these schools and protect them from forceful attempts at expulsion and worse. the National Guard was called in to help desegregate universities. what will they do when they don't have the organized violence of the police and National Guard? (Incidentally. when police agencies hand over their blacklists. Whether they mean to or not.

NYC's Mayor Bloomberg gave special buttons to nonviolent activists who had proclaimed that they would be peaceful. Someone with a lot of resources distributed thousands of leaflets the weekend before the convention making the idiotic claim that violence-say. Free speech is only free as long as it is not a threat and does not come with the possibility of challenging the system. such as immigrants and people of color. we can try to say whatever we want to bosses. the limitations on "free speech" become even more pronounced. Pacifists got an added perk: anyone wearing the button would be given discounts at dozens of Broadway shows. A huge amount of energy was expended weeks in advance (by the institutional Left and the police) in attempts to alienate and exclude more militant activists. and Green Party activists to walk around holding witty signs with like-minded "enlightened" progressives. No matter: the walls were rock solid and my words were hot air. the Poor People's March was repeatedly attacked by police making targeted arrests of activists wearing masks or refusing to be searched. and it does not equal freedom. judges. The march ended. At the massive protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York City." Bloomberg got political points for being hip and lenient. least confrontational spot possible in a city full of the edifices of state and capital: Central Park's Grand Lawn (appropriately. hotels. whom march organizers were ostensibly concerned about as being more vulnerable to arrest.PETER GflDERLOOS NONVIOl£NCE ISSTATIST a flower stuck in the barrel of a gun. they would leave me at peace. In situations of social emergency. and unless we are slavishly congenial." Even in our daily life. though it certainly would not have helped the Democrats. March participants had agreed to be nonviolent because the march included many people. and unless I thought up a particularly creative way to intentionally enrage them. would have tarnished Bush's image as a leader and "uniter"). Free speech is a privilege" that can be-and is-taken away by the government when it serves their interests." and history shows the exercise of that power regularly. It does not impede the ability of the gun to fire. and people dispersed to the most isolated. even cuss at the guards. the activists were urged to ignore the arrests and keep moving. The leaflet also warned that anyone advocating confrontational tactics was likely a police agent. museums. The state has the uncontested power to take away our "rights. a riot-would improve Bush's image (when. even as his administration cracked down on dissent during the week of protests. Democratic canvass­ ers. What most pacifists do not seem to understand is that free speech does not empower us. chanting such illuminating mantras as "We are beautiful!" Later in the week. But when activists-peacefully-swarmed police officers to attempt to discourage the arrests. The cooperation that is only possible with peaceful dissidents helps to humanize the politicians responsible for monstrous poli­ cies. and restaurants (highlighting how the passive parade of nonviolence is tapped into as a boost to the economy and bulwark of the status quo). the police were every bit as violent as they chose to be. in reality. a riot. As Mayor Bloomberg put it. I could yell and shout all I wanted. all attempts at conciliation and de-escalation failed. with march "peacekeepers" and police shouting identical messages at the crowd ("Move along!" "Stick to the march route!"). other protestors flocked to the "Sheep Meadow"). The most freedom of speech I have ever had was in the "Security Housing Unit" (maximum-security solitary confinement) in federal prison. I 54 I I 55 I . "It's no fun to protest on an empty stomach. They danced and celebrated into the night. Obviously. or police of­ ficers." And the anti-RNC protests in New York were little more than that: fun. Consider the activists imprisoned for speaking against the draft in World War I and the people arrested in 2004 for holding protest signs at events where Bush was speaking. honesty and a free tongue will lead to harmful consequences. Fun for college students.

for the pacifists. The response to Holiday's arrest shows a hypocrisy that privileges state violence over even the right of people to defend themselves. To "justify" repression against AIM. This happened at the end of the rally. when. If it wants to repress a movement or organization. Though police violence (in this case. an article advocating nonviolence in The Nation complains that violence in Seattle and Genoa (where Italian po­ lice shot and killed a protestor) "created negative media images and provided an excuse for even harsher repression." which were passed off as AIM communiques discussing the supposed creation of terror squads to assassinate tourists. with no provocation. drawn-out violence of the penal system. a crowd of protestors who had just been attacked by police began screaming at an organizer who was yelling at them through a bullhorn to get away from the police (there was nowhere to go) because they were "provoking" the cops. hurting several people (and running over my foot).. Pacifist organizers waste no opportunity to declare a ban on "violence" within their protests. which is perceived as inevitable.[Djisruption [through the media] can I 56 I I 57 I . and beyond reproach. one of several who had. The official claim was that the violence of the protests demonized the entire movement. many of the march participants. Jamal Holiday. declared from Seattle that a violent fringe minority was solely responsible for the mayhem. it does not wait for an excuse. everyone from pacifists to the corporate media blamed the police riot on the black bloc. often with great results. it manufactures one. motivated thousands to do that research on their own. Similarly. was arrested for the self-defense "assault" of a plainclothes NYPD detective." These teletypes were part of a general FBI dis information campaign instrumental in al­ lowing the consequence-free (for the government) false imprison­ ment and murder of several AIM activists and supporters. Perhaps the major grievance was that decen­ tralized. a black New York City resident from a disadvantaged background. the FBI manufactured the "Dog Soldier Teletypes. but the violence. protecting an allegedly violent activ­ ist from a far greater violence comes too near to blurring their principled stand against violence. including the supposedly "vulnerable. and government officials. the use of torture tactics against peaceful protestors blockading the summit site) preceded the "violent" property destruction by the black bloc. "It is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge. Bill Clinton. The 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle are a typical example. The same pacifist segments of the movement who raised a stink about the peaceful protestors whom police arrested en masse on August 31 (a day reserved for civil disobedience-style protests) remained silent toward and unsupportive of Holiday while he endured the excruciating. non-hierarchically organized anarchists stole the spotlight from big-budget NGOs that require an aura of authority to keep receiving donations. the violence of Seattle intrigued and attracted more new people to the movement than were attracted by the tranquility of any subsequent mass mobilization." were quite upset with the march leaders' passivity and the contin­ ued police brutality. farmers.. At one point. About such campaigns. of militant com­ mitment in an otherwise absurd world."20 I will di­ gress for a moment here to point out that the state is not a passive thing.'? In fact. driven their mopeds into the peaceful crowd at the Poor People's March. neutral. though even the presi­ dent himself.PETER GElDERLOOS NONVlOLENCE ISSTATIST The next day. because such violence would "justify" repres­ sion by the police.. Apparently. The American Indian Movement was not a violent organization-the vast majority of its tactics were peaceful-but members did not restrict themselves to nonviolence. That is why Seattle is thought of by the ahistorical as the "beginning" or "birth" of the anti­ globalization movement. The corporate media did not-and never will-explain the motives of the activists. the FBI says. they practiced armed self-defense and forceful oc­ cupations of government buildings. the visible manifestation of passion and fury. Nonviolent activists go further than endorsing state violence with their silence: they are often vocal in justifying it.

Notably. The diagram assumes a society without race and class hierarchy. my resistance to the peace marshal's light attempts to push me back visibly singled me out to the police. An essay on strategic nonviolence that came highly recommended from some pacifist acquaintances includes a diagram. movement-wide adherence to nonviolence. it is immaterial whether an organization deemed a threat to the status quo has or has not committed a violent act. are on the right. it was not by the police but by a peace marshal." Pacifism goes hand in hand with efforts to centralize and control the movement. Colonial regimes appointed "chiefs" to stateless societ­ ies that had none. but more vigorous efforts to insure [sic) nonviolence and prevent destructive behavior are possible and necessary. if it decides there is a need to do so. or especially vulnerable to legal sanctions could have a "safe space. whether to impose political control in Africa or negotiate deceptive treaties in North America. This is an utterly naive and privileged view of democratic government. Z3 The pacifist reliance on centralization and control {with a leadership that can take "vigorous efforts" to "prevent destructive behavior"} preserves the state within the movement. I 58 I I S9 I . with. their opponents. (In fact.) Can anyone imagine revolutionary activists declaring that they need to be more vigorous in making sure that every participant in an event hits a cop or throws a brick through a window? On the contrary. criticizing another pacifist organization's refusal to openly condemn activists who use a diversity of tactics. the first time I ever got assaulted at a protest. Such a society does not exist among any of the industrial. ready to manage the perceptions of the citizenry. in which all decisions are decided by majority. and bought off the leadership of the hierarchical unions. This tactic has most certainly been ap­ plied by pacifists already. whereas it negotiated with. powerful. The author laments. of course. without privileged. a limited violence practiced only out of recalcitrant conservatism and reluctance to change the status quo. why do proponents of nonviolence continue to insist that the truth will set them free? The previously mentioned Nation article demands a strict. "It's impossible to con­ trol the actions of everyone who participates in a demonstration." No doubt. who were overseeing the work of their proxies." All three segments are equally arrayed around an apparently neutral "de­ cision-making" authority. »zz If. and undecided third parties are in the middle. and preserves hierarchi­ cal structures to assist state negotiations {and state repression}. they also make it easier for the state to repress a movement. who tried to push me to the curb while I and several others were hold­ ing an intersection to keep the police from dividing the march and potentially mass-arresting the smaller segment. the state invents one. Additionally. a "more vigorous" commitment to nonviolence means that activist leaders must more frequently utilize the police as a force for peace {to arrest "troublemakers"}. leaderless social movements are especially hard to repress. History shows that if a movement does not have a leader. The state violently eliminated the anti-hierarchi­ cal labor unions of the early 20 th century. and I had to duck back into the crowd to avoid being arrested or assaulted more forcefully. Nonviolent activists are on the left. But the pacifist vision of social change comes from a privileged vantage. afraid of police brutality. The concept is inherently authoritar- ian and incompatible with anarchism because it denies people the right to self-determination in directing their own struggles. presumably reactionaries. A 95 percent commitment to nonviolence is not enough. people opposed to confrontation. at worst. most anarchists and other militants have bent over backwards in working with pacifists and ensuring that at joint demonstrations. in the eyes of the government. where full state repression is not a real fear. The tendencies of pacifism toward negotiation and centralization fa­ cilitate efforts by the state to manipulate and co-opt rebellious social movements.PETER GELDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISSTATIST be accomplished without facts to back it up. and violent elites. capitalist democracies. elevated. without a corpo­ rate media controlled by the interests of state and capital.

and pacifists who have not fully dedicated their futures to revolution by declaring war on the status quo lose the clarity of conviction (maybe they somehow did something to "deserve" or "provoke" the repression?) and drop out. but they took it on their feet. But the same governments whose repre­ sentatives hold polite talks with or rudely dismiss conscientious hunger strikers also constantly spy on the resistance and train agents in counterinsurgency-warfare techniques drawn from wars of extermination waged to subdue rebellious colonies from Ireland to Algeria. interrupted only by outside agitators. police stations. Modern governments. In Albania in 1997. this model assumes an analysis of the state that is remark­ ably charitable and remarkably similar to how the state might describe itself in public-school civics textbooks. I should editorialize) is conflict: rebellion to their rule is inevitable and continuous. police repression at the 2003 anti-FTAA protests in Miami was wholly undeserved even by legalistic standards. revolution is a morality play. is consciously bound by self-interest. govern- I 60 I I 61 I . and structurally integrated with and dependent on the systems of power and oppression that galvanized the social movement in the first place. for instance-nonviolent resistance. fighting back. dignified suffering simply stops being fun. Consider the 1999 Seattle protest and the successive mass mobilizations of the anti-globalization movement: activists in Seattle were brutalized. no longer view peace as the default social condi­ tion. in reality. The same goes for the Quebec City demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA). permanently. the "Socialist Party called a demonstration in the capital hoping to make itself the leader of a peaceful protest movement. Now they understand that the natural condition of the world (the world they have created. willing to break any inconvenient law it may have set down. the anti-segregation students sit­ ting in at "whites only" lunch counters while enduring verbal and physical attacks] to attract sympathy and political support. Second. DC-the yearly demonstrations against the World Bank. this model puts pacifists in the position of pressuring and negotiating with a decision-making authority that. consisting of the occasional orchestrated lockdown. government is a neutral and passive decision-making authority that responds to public pressures. and many were empowered by the experience. arrest. the state knows that it is safe. burning or bombing banks. In the even more passive protests in Wash­ ington. an advocacy campaign that can be won by "the ability of dignified suffering [for example.PETER GELDERLOOS NONVlOLENCE ISSTATIST Within such a model of social power. In this analysis. In the final analysis. People began arming themselves. The state is prepared to use those methods against us. Even when the government stops short of exterminatory forms of repression. including activists who were sexually assaulted by police while locked up. But it is not structurally oppressive."25 First of all. It is at best fair and at worst beset by a culture of conservatism and ignorance. government corrup­ tion and economic collapse caused a large number of families to lose all their savings. the state can use nonviolence to defeat even a revolutionary movement that has otherwise become power­ ful enough to succeed. As long as rebels continue to carry olive branches and a naive view of the struggle. were not empowering so much as tedious and marked by dwindling numbers. imprisonment. and many people were scared away from further participation. At the other end. and release." Protestors were not empowered or dignified by the one-sided violence-they were brutalized. In response." Statecraft has become the art of managing conflict. though in every case the criteria used by the pacifist organizers to ascertain victory was a combination of nothing more than the numbers of participants and the absence of violent con­ frontation with authorities or property. They were certainly not successful in winning media attention or influencing people with the spectacle of dignified suffering."2B But the resistance spread far beyond the control of any political party. which have long studied methods of social control.

pacifists raise their index and middle fin­ gers to form a V. the government. several thousand E u ~ Union troops occupied Albania to restore central authOrity. in general. regarding Algeria." Then. But." in my experience. The peace sign itself is the perfect metaphor for this function. The official leaders. For their part. It seems that the only form of violence they consistently oppose is rebellion against the state. and offices of the secret service. And." Soon after. and they do not resist the violence of the state when it is used against militants (in fact. "the revolutionary elements which subscribe to them will rapidly be isolated. "Much of the military deserted. which would give them a chance to create new social organizations for themselves. it is interesting to note how they playa similar role. It is in the absence of significant pacifist penetration into popular movements that political leaders fail to control those movements and are rejected and amputated as elitist leeches. force. They negotiate and cooperate with armed police at their demonstrations. or direction they cannot even imagine. It is when nonviolence is tolerated by popular movements that these movements are hamstrung. Algeria. the peace that pacifists defend is that of the vanquishing army. It is a Pax Americana. will pitilessly disown these 'adventurers and anarchists." and the leaders "are ter­ rified and worried by the idea that they could be swept away by a maelstrom whose narure. Similarly. including the secret police. either joining the insur­ gents or fleeing to Greece. The standard alliance and fraternizing between pacifists and progressive political leaders (who counsel moderation) serve to fracrure and control revolutionary move­ ments. "By mid-March. was forced to flee the capital. on the whole. draped in their years of experience. which they "label as childishness. In the final analysis. though pacifists honor their "prisoners of conscience. In the end. and anti-colonial struggles. Frantz Fanon describes opposition parties that denounced violent rebellion in the colonies out of a desire to control the movement. I 62 I I 63 I . and liberating prisons. pacifists across the country flooded me with support. The opposition parties. the unopposed state that has conquered all re­ sistance and monopolized violence to such an extent that violence need no longer be visible. conduct elections. they often encour­ age it). genuine pacifists are more likely to accept the deceptive olive branches of pacifying politicians than offers of solidarity from armed revolutionaries. "The party machine shows itself opposed to any innovation. Instead of raising a fist. whether in Albania. "After the first skirmishes.PETER GElDERLOOS NONVIOlENCE ISSTATIST ? ment buildings. That V stands for victory and is the symbol of patriots exulting in the peace that follows a triumphant war." As Fanon explains. they tend to ignore the violence of the prison system in cases where the prisoner committed an act of violent resistance or even vandalism (not to mention an apolitical crime). or elsewhere.2 million casualties of the government's War on Crime. in particu­ lar. which all along had been negotiating with the government to find a set of conditions to induce the rebels to disarm and convince the ruling party to step down (so they could step up). When I was serving a six-month prison sentence for an act of civil disobedience." The Albanian people were poised to overthrow the system that was oppressing them. were instrumental in allowing the occupation to pacify the rebels. the official leaders speedily dispose of' militant action. and reinstitute the state.'?" Though these oppositional political leaders. nonviolent activists rely on the violence of the state to protect their gains. generally do not identify as paci­ fists. they show a lack of concern for the instirutionalized violence encaging the 2.

With gender. But it goes well beyond individual or systemic preju­ dice against women. and it is reproduced by everyone who lives within it. as with race. it puts men in a dominant position and women in a submissive position." or. first of all. Most proponents of nonviolence will present it as not 4 I 65 I . scary. Activities and characteristics that are traditionally associated with "power. and it asserts (falsely) that these roles are natural and moral. worthless.' Patriarchy gives both the ability and the right to use violence almost exclusively to men. They are made to seem and feel ugly. at least privilege.) Patriarchy attempts to destroy. anyone who does not fit into one of these two categories or who rejects this "gender binary. socially or even physically. Patriarchy is harmful to everybody. and many non-WestNONVIOLENCE IS ern cultures recognized-and still do. It is. nonviolence is an inherently privi­ leged position. mostly belong to men. Under patriarchy. political) for men and women. True to its name. (Many perfectly healthy people do not fit into either of these physio­ logical categories. contemptible. we can suffer violence patiently until enough of society can be mobilized to oppose it peacefully (or that we can expect to "transform" any aggression that threatens us in­ dividually). people who do not fit into or who reject these gender roles are neutral­ ized with violence and ostracism. dirty. social. the false division of all people into two rigid categories (male and female) that are asserted to be both natural and moral.Patriarchy is a form of social organiza­ tion that produces what we commonly recognize as sexism. Nonviolence assumes that instead of defending ourselves against violence. PAT R I ARC HAL if they haven't been destroyed-more than two sexes and genders." Patriarchy goes on to define clear roles (economic. emotional.

"wrongs" were addressed through punishment rather than recon­ ciliation. the abolition of patriarchy in par­ ticular requires forms of resistance that emphasize healing and reconciliation. except perhaps as a role model of manliness)." and "dignified suffering" among the oppressed. Pacifism simply does not resonate in people's everyday realities. fight­ ing against power holders or those most responsible plays a much smaller role. and in daily life. This is perfectly compatible with self-defense train­ ing for women and transgender people and attacks on economic. In one of the most lucid texts defining the preservation and implemen­ tation of patriarchy-the Old Testament-story upon command­ ment upon parable upon law counsel women to suffer injustice patiently and pray for the divine Aurhority to intervene. people must build a culture that allows every­ one to self-identify in terms of gender and that supports us as we build healthy relationships and heal from generations of violence and trauma. "turning the other cheek. Instead. based on law and punishment. patriarchy is not upheld by a powerful elite who must be forcibly defeated. and striking out against the most egregious and probably incorrigible examples of patriarchy is one way to educate others about the need for an alternative. From another angle. After all. but does not derive much more power specifically from patriarchy than any other male. Nonviolence implies that it is better for an abused wife to move out than to mobilize a group of women to beat up and kick out her abusive husband.1)E. After all. It glorifies passivity. nonviolence implies that it is immoral for a woman to fight off an attacker or study self-defense. who had been socialized not to deal with emotions. kidnapping the president of a company that conducts women-trafficking-none of these actions prevent the building of a healthy culture. burning down the office of a magazine that consciously markets a beauty standard that leads to anorexia and bulimia. But pacifists seem not to have given the violence of patriarchy its due consideration. Because the distribution of power within patriarchy is much more diffused than within the state or capitalism (for example. Furthermore. Most of the work needed to overcome patriarchy will probably be peaceful. women and transgender people are the primary recipients of violence in patriarchal society. Killing a cop who rapes homeless transgender people and prostitutes. in social revolutions. nonviolence implies the same lessons that patriarchy has taught for millennia. Valuing healthy relationships is complemented by militantly opposing institutions that propagate exploitive and violent relationships. and laws were written for male prop­ erty owners. and political institutions that exemplify patriarchy or are responsible for 'an especially brutal form of it. Rather.PETER GEJ. but by everyone.RLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISPATRIARCHAL merely a narrow polirical practice but a philosophy that deserves to penetrate the very social fabric and root out violence in all its manifestations. certain power­ ful people who consciously profit from patriarchy actively prevent a healthy culture from emerging. nonviolence seems well-suited to deal­ ing with patriarchy. in wars. But a pacifist practice that forbids the use of any other tactics leaves no option for people who need to protect themselves from violence now.' The Western concept of justice. (This prescription is remarkably similar to pacifists' faith in the cor- I 66 I I 67 I . Early legal codes defined women as property. If we take this philosophy out of the impersonal political arena and put it in a more real context. a male general who also sits on the advisory board of a major corpora­ tion holds significant power within the state and capitalism. In the case of rape and other forms of violence against women. cultural. is patriarchal through and through.' Nonviolence implies that it is better for someone to be raped than to pull the mechanical pencil out of her pocket and plunge it into her assailant's jugular (because doing so would supposedly contribute to some cycle of violence and encourage future rapes). focused on healing and building alternatives. unless those people live in some extrav­ agant bubble of tranquility from which all forms of civilization's pandemic reactive violence have been pushed out by the systemic and less visible violence of police and military forces.

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porate media to disseminate images of dignified suffering and motivate the "decision-making authority" to implement justice). Because patriarchy clearly prescribes a one-sided male violence, women would be disrupting this power dynamic, not reinforcing it, by relearning their propensity for violence." To reiterate, women reclaiming the ability and right to use force would not by itself end patriarchy, but it is a necessary condition for gender liberation, as well as a useful form of empowerment and protection in the short term. Pacifists and reformist feminists have often charged that it is militant activists who are sexist. In many specific cases, the accusa­ tion has been valid. But the criticism is frequently broadened to suggest that the use of violent activism itself is sexist, masculine, or otherwise privileged.' As Laina Tanglewood explains, "Some re­ cent 'feminist' critiques of anarchism have condemned militancy as being sexist and non-inclusive to women....This idea is actually the sexist one."6 Another anarchist points out, "In fact, the mas­ culinization of violence, with its unstated sexist concomitant, the feminization of passivity, really owes more to the presumptions of those whose notion of change does not include revolution or the annihilation of the State."? Likewise, whose notion of freedom does not include women's being able to defend themselves? Responding to the presumption that women can only be protected by larger social structures, activ­ ist Sue Daniels reminds us, "A woman can fight off a male attacker by herself....It is absolutely not a question of who is physically stronger-it is a question of training."8 "The Will to Win! Women and Self-Defense," an anonymously authored pamphlet, adds the following: It is ridiculous that there are so many counseling and sup­ port organizations for women who have been raped, at­ tacked, and abused but hardly any that work to prepare and prevent these things from happening. We must refuse to be victims and reject the idea that we should submit to our

assailants to keep from arousing further violence. In reality, submitting to our assailants will only contribute to future violence against others." The entire idea that violence is masculine, or that revolutionary activism necessarily excludes women, queers, and trans people is, like other premises of nonviolence, based on historical whitewash­ ing. Ignored are the Nigerian women occupying and sabotaging petroleum facilities; the women martyrs of the Palestinian intifada; the queer and transgender warriors of the Stonewall Rebellion; the innumerable thousands of women who fought for the Vietcong; women leaders of Native resistance to European and US genocide; Mujeres Creando (Women Creating), a group of anarcha-feminists in Bolivia; and British suffragettes who rioted and fought against cops. Forgotten are the women from the rank and file to the highest levels of leadership among the Black Panther Party, the Zapatistas, the Weather Underground, and other militant groups. The idea that fighting back somehow excludes women is absurd. Not even the history of the pacified white "First World" bears it up because even the most effective patriarchy imaginable could never prevent all transgender people and all women from militantly fighting against oppression. Advocates of nonviolence who make a limited exception for self­ defense because they recognize how wrong it is to say that oppressed people cannot or should not protect themselves have no viable strat­ egies for dealing with systemic violence. Is it self-defense to fight off an abusive husband, but not to blow up a dioxin-emitting factory that is making your breast milk toxic? What about a more concerted campaign to destroy the corporation that owns the factory and is responsible for releasing the pollutants? Is it self-defense to kill the general who sends out the soldiers who rape women in a war zone? Or must pacifists remain on the defensive, only fighting individual attacks and submitting themselves to the inevitability of such at­ tacks until nonviolent tactics somehow convert the general or close down the factory, at some uncertain point in the future?

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Aside from protecting the patriarchy from militant opposi­ tion, nonviolence also helps preserve patriarchal dynamics within the movement. One of the major premises of current anti-oppression activism (born out of the joint desire to promote healthier, more empowered movements and to avoid the infight­ ing which stemmed largely from neglected oppressive dynamics that crippled the previous generation's liberation struggles) is that oppressive social hierarchies exist and replicate themselves in the behavior of all subjects and must be overcome internally as well as externally. But pacifism thrives on avoiding self-criticism.'? Many are familiar with the partially justified stereotype of self-con­ gratulatory, self-celebratory nonviolent activists who "embody the change [they) wish to see in the world" 11 to such a degree that in their minds, they embody everything right and beautiful. A follower in one pacifist organization exclaimed, in response to criticisms of privilege, that the group's white, male leader could not possibly have white privilege and male privilege because he was such a good person, as though white supremacy and patriar­ chy were entirely voluntary associations.'! In such a context, how easily could a predominantly male leadership that is understood to embody the nonviolent ideal as a result of their participation in an impressive number of hunger strikes and sit-ins be called out for oppressive behavior, transphobia, or sexual abuse? The pacifist avoidance of self-criticism is functional, not just typical. When your strategy's victory comes from "capturling] and maintainling] the moral high ground,"!' it is necessary to portray yourself as moral and your enemy as immoral. Uncovering bigot­ ries and oppressive dynamics among group leaders and members is simply counterproductive to your chosen strategy. How many people know that Martin Luther King]r. treated Ella Baker (who is largely responsible for building the foundation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference [SCLCj while King was still in­ experienced as an organizer) like his secretary; laughed in the faces of several women in the organization when they suggested that

power and leadership should be shared; said that women's natural role was motherhood, and that they, unfortunately, were "forced" into the positions of "teacher" and "leader"." and removed Bayard Rustin from his organization because Rustin was gay?lS But then, why would these facts be widely available when making an icon of King entailed covering up any such faults and portraying him as a saint? For revolutionary activists, however, victory comes from building power and out-strategizing the state. Such a path requires constant assessment and self-crlricism." It is often preexisting sexist assumptions that paint militant groups as more sexist than they actually are. For example, women were effectively excluded from leadership positions in King's SCLC,17 whereas women (for example, Elaine Brown) at times held the top positions in the Black Panther Party (BPP). Yet it is the BPP, and not the SCLC, that is held up as the paragon of machismo. Kathleen Cleaver rebuts, "In 1970, the Black Panther Party took a formal position on the liberation of women. Did the US Congress ever make any statement on the liberation of worn­ en?"IB Frankye MalikaAdams, another Panther, said, "Women ran the BPP pretty much. I don't know how it got to be a male's party or thought of as being a male's party."19 In resurrecting a truer history of the Black Panther Party, Mumia Abu-jamal documents what was, in some ways, "a woman's party."20 Nonetheless, sexism persisted among the Panthers, as it per­ sists within any revolutionary milieu, and any other segment of a patriarchal society today. Patriarchy cannot be destroyed overnight, but it can be gradually overcome by groups that work to destroy it. Activists must recognize patriarchy as a primary enemy and open spaces within revolutionary movements for women, queer people, and transgender people to be creative forces in directing, assessing, and reformulating the struggle (while also supporting men's efforts to understand and counter our own socialization). An honest evaluation shows that no matter our intentions, more work remains to be done to free control of the movement from

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the hands of men and to find healthy, restorative ways to deal with abusive patterns in relationships, social or romantic, among members of the movement. Whether militant or pacifist, nearly every tactical or strategic discussion I have participated in was attended and dominated overwhelmingly by men. Rather than claim that women and transgender people are somehow unable to participate in a broad spectrum of tactical options (or even discuss them), we would do well to recall the voices of those who have fought-violently, defi­ antly, effectively-as revolutionaries. To that end: Mujeres Creando is an anarcha-feminist group in Bolivia. Its members have engaged in graffiti campaigns and anti-poverty campaigns. They protect protestors from police violence at dem­ onstrations. In their most dramatic action, they armed themselves with Molotov cocktails and sticks of dynamite and helped a group of indigenous farmers take over a bank to demand forgiveness of the debt that was starving the farmers and their families. In an interview, Julieta Paredes, a founding member, explains the group's origins. Mujeres Creando is a "craziness" started by three women [julieta Paredes, Maria Galindo, and Monica Mendoza] from the arrogant, homophobic, and totalitarian Left of Bolivia of the '80s ....The difference between us and those who talk about the overthrow of capitalism is that all their proposals for a new society come from the patriarchy of the Left. As feminists in Mujeres Creando we want revolu­ tion, a real change of the system....I've said it and I'll say it again that we're not anarchists by Bakunin or the CNT, but rather by our grandmothers, and that's a beautiful school of
anarchism."!'

We were not taking any more of this shit. We had done so much for other movements. It was time.

It was street gay people from the Village out front-homeless people who lived in the park in Sheridan Square outside the bar-and then drag queens behind them and everybody be­ hind us....
I'm glad I was in the Stonewall Riot. I remember when some­ one threw a Molotov cocktail, I thought: "My god, the revolu­ tion is here. The revolution is finally here!" I always believed that we would have a fight back. I just knew that we would fight back. I just didn't know it would be that night. I am proud of myself as being there that night. If I had lost that moment, I would have been kind of hurt because that's when I saw the world change for me and my people. Of course, we still got a long way ahead of
US. 22

Ann Hansen is a Canadian revolutionary who served seven years in prison for her involvement in the I980s with the under­ ground groups Direct Action and the Wimmin's Fire Brigade, which (among other actions) bombed the factory of Litton Systems (a manufacturer of cruise-missile components) and fire­ bombed a chain of pornography shops that sold videos depicting rapes. According to Hansen: There are many different forms of direct action, some more effective than others at different points in history, but in con­ junction with other forms of protest, direct action can make the movement for change more effective by opening avenues of resistance that are not easily co-opted or controlled by the state. Unfortunately, people within the movement weaken their own actions by failing to understand and support the diverse tactics available....We have become pacified.P Russian-born Emma Goldman-America's most famous anarchist, participant in the attempted assassination of steel boss

Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican drag queen, talked about her par­ ticipation in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, sparked after police raided the Stonewall Bar in New York City's Greenwich Village to harass the queer and trans patrons.

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Henry Clay Frick in 1892, supporter of the Russian Revolution, and one of the earliest critics of the Leninist government-writes of women's emancipation, "History tells us that every oppressed class gained true liberation from its masters through its own ef­ forts. It is necessary that woman learn that lesson, that she realize that her freedom will reach as far as her power to achieve freedom . reaches. "24 Mollie Steimer was another Russian-American immigrant anarchist. From a young age, Steimer worked with Frayhayt, a Yiddish-language anarchist paper from New York. Its masthead proclaimed: "The only just war is the social revolution." From 1918 onwards, Steimer was arrested and imprisoned repeatedly for speaking out against the First World War or in support of the Rus­ sian Revolution, which, at that time, before the Leninist consoli­ dation and purges, had a significant anarchist component. At one trial she declared, "To the fulfillment of this idea [anarchism], I will devote all my energy, and, if necessary, render my life for it."25 Steimer was deported to Russia and then jailed by the Soviets for supporting anarchist prisoners there. Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was a Mi'kmaq woman and American Indian Movement (AIM) activist. After teaching, counseling Native youth, and "working with Boston's African American and Native American communities,"26 she joined AIM and was involved in the 71-d.ay occupation of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973. In 1975, at the height of a period of brutal state repression during which at least 60 AIM members and supporters were murdered by paramilitaries equipped by the FBI, Pictou-Aquash was present at a shoot-out in which two FBI agents were killed. In November 1975, she was declared a fugitive for avoiding court appearances on explo­ sives charges. In February 1976, she was found dead, shot in the back of the head; the state coroner listed the cause of death as "exposure." After her death, it was learned that the FBI had threatened her life for not selling out other AIM activists. During her life, Pictou-Aquash was an outspoken activist and revolutionary.

These white people think this country belongs to them-they do not realize that they are only in charge right now because there are more of them than there are of us. The whole coun­ try changed with only a handful of raggedy-ass pilgrims that came over here in the 1500s. It can take a handful of raggedy­ ass Indians to do the same, and I intend to be one of those raggedy-ass Indians."27 Rote lora (Rl) was a German urban guerrilla group of anti­ imperialist feminists. Together with the allied Revolutionary Cells, they carried out more than two hundred attacks, mostly bombings, during the 1970s and 80s. They targeted pornogra­ phers; corporations using sweatshops; government buildings; companies trading women as wives, sex slaves, and domestic work­ ers; drug companies; and more. In an anonymous interview, Rote lora members explained that: "the women of Rl started in 1974 with the bombing of the Supreme Court in Karlsruhe because we aU wanted the total abolishment of '218' (the abortion law)."28 Asked whether violence such as their bombings harms the move­ ment, the members replied: Zora 1:To harm the movement-you talk about the installation of repression. The actions don't harm the movement! it's the opposite, they should and can support the movement directly. Our attack on the women traders, for example, helped to ex­ pose their business to the public light, to threaten them, and they now know they have to anticipate the resistance of women if they go on with their business. These "gentlemen" know they have to anticipate resistance. We call this a strengthening of our movement. lora 2: For a long time the strategy of counter-revolution has begun to split the radical wing from the rest of the movement by any means and isolate them to weaken the whole move­ ment. In the '70s we had the experience of what it means when sectors of the Left adopt the propaganda of the state, when they start to present those who struggle uncornpromis-

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" Flinders asserts that this shows "it's never been particularly adaptive for women to engage in direct combat" and "women tend to come at [nonviolence] from a somewhat different direction and even live it out rather differently. defuse the tension."32 This sort of pop science has long been a favored tool to reconstitute the patriarchy by supposedly proving the existence of natural differences between men and women. which is ascribed to men. however. relishing the tale that Gandhi learned nonviolence from his wife without mentioning the disturb­ ingly patriarchal aspects of their relationship. the diversity within a set happily declare these two sets to be natural categories and continue to make people feel like they are unnatural and abnormal if they do not fall close to the average of their set (God forbid they fall closer to the average of the other set.. a great deal of feminist literature that denies the empowering (and historically important) effects of militant struggle on women's and other movements. with the implicitly transphobic and gender-essentializing" UCLA study. Among chim­ panzees. feed everyone. they weaken their own position."?" Flinders is com­ mitting another scientific blunder. As every act of violence against one woman creates an atmosphere of threat against all women-our actions contribute-even if they aim only against the individual responsible-to the devel­ opment of an atmosphere of "Resistance is possible!"29 There is.Females are rarely out on those frontlines. but obscures. women will "quiet the children.'? But taking these criticisms seriously should not prevent us from pointing out the hypocrisy of feminists wh'a gladly decry sexist behavior by militants but cover it up when it is committed by pacifists-for example. The interview went on to ask the following question. Arguing against nonviolence and in favor of a diversity of tactics should not at all imply a satisfaction with the strategies or cultures of past militant groups (for example. Namely.PETER GEillERLOOS NONVIOl£NCE ISPATRIARCHAL inglv as responsible for state persecution. Let's pause for a moment to drink a toast to the impartiality of Science!) But Flinders is not content to pause there.. according to these scientists.. our nearest relations. They not only confuse cause with effect. and has taken on a remarkably I 76 I I 77 I . males patrol the territory within which the females and infants feed . Zora 2: Maybe it is scary if everyday reality is questioned. pre-human past. destruction. How can non-autonomous. Pacifist feminists point to the sexism and machismo of certain militant liberation organizations. She goes on to delve into "our remote.. arbitrarily dividing humanity into two sets (male and female) based on a very limited number of characteristics will invariably produce different averages for each set. but with a "tend or befriend" mechanism. Therefore. the ma­ cho posturing of the Weather Underground or the anti-feminism of the Red Brigades). but also justify implicitly state terror.. and repression. and people are all too willing to forget basic mathematic principles in order to surrender to such a well-ordered world.. non-radical women understand what you want? Armed actions do have a "scare away" effect. When threatened. They narrow the frame of their protest and their resistance . offering instead a paci­ fist feminism. This is a provocation. People who do not know that an average does not express. and con­ nect with other females. Women who get it pounded into their heads from the time they are little girls that they are victims get insecure if they are confronted with the fact that women are neither victims nor peaceful. they're more typically engaged in direct care of their offspring. which we should all ac­ knowledge and address. Carol Flinders cites a study by UCLA scientists asserting that women are hormon­ ally programmed to respond to danger not with the fight-or-flight mechanism." Some feminists go further than specific criticisms and attempt to forge a metaphysical link between feminism and nonviolence: this is the "feminization of passivity" mentioned earlier. Those women who experience their powerlessness with rage can identify with our actions. In an ar­ ticle published in the Berkeley journal Peace Power.

demonstrated that the same belief system that says women are peaceful also says women's role is to cook and raise children. But there are also a lot of feminists out there. Even within this dubious framework. dozens of self-identified feminists responded to the question. nonviolence} merely because of our genitalia or our feminism. myself included.suggest that despite the potential problems involved.. locking women into a role that is falsely named natural. who don't want to see ourselves automatically linked to one stance {that is. the evolutionary determinism she is using is neither scrupulous nor proven-its popularity comes from its util­ ity in creating an alibi for oppressive historical social structures. In the second paragraph of "Feminism and Nonviolence: A Relational Model. We are not bound to the gender divisions of chimps any more than they are bound to our propensity for de­ veloping immense vocabularies to obscure the truth of the world around us. One message summed it up: "There is still a substantial strain in feminism that links women with nonviolence. and shut­ ting out people who do not fit that role. Chimpanzees are every bit as modern as humans. but because the strategy fits their values and resources-" In constraining women to nonviolence. both species evolved from the same predecessor. rather. It is hard to tell how many feminists today accept the premises of essentialism. The name of that belief system is patriarchy. and both species have had the opportunity to evolve behavioral adaptations that diverge from the common ancestor. However. many not. Firstly." Patrizia Longo writes: Years of research . Flinders is flawed in her assumptions. Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees." thus defining which traits are essentially feminine. Secondly. Is there a link between nonviolence and feminism? A majority of respondents.. albeit accidentally. it seems that pacifist feminists must also constrain our definition of women's "values and resources.PETER GffDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISPA1RlARCHAL sexist tone. Another article by a feminist academic waxes essentialist right off the bat. women choose nonviolence not because they wish to improve themselves through additional suffering. along the same path that has brought her to assert a female tendency toward nonviolence."36 I 78 I I 79 I . women consistently participate in nonviolent ac­ tion. some pacifist. expressed the belief that feminists do not need to support nonviolence. On one discussion board. Flinders has boldly. but it seems that a large number of rank-and-file feminists do not accept the idea that feminism and nonviolence are or must be inherently linked. Flinders has run into the assertion that women's natural role is comforting children and feeding everybody-away from the frontlines.

and neither is nonviolence.) A strategy is not a goal. The goal is the destination."! It's high time to make the distinction between strategizing and sloganeering. It may be most realistic to avoid a linear approach and picture the ul­ timate goal as a horizon. capitalism. or an action. NONVIOLENCE IS (The usages I will give for the following TACTICALLY AND terms are not universal. new goals emerge. and ecocidal forms of civilization. Unfortunately. which will change with time as once-distant waypoints become clear. the ultimate goal today seems to be the abolition of an interlocking set of systems that include the state. let's start with some definitions.Nonviolent activists attempting to appear strategic often avoid any real strategizing with intrepid simplitudes such as "Violence is the government's strong suit. Violence is not a strategy. and get a little more sophisticated. Of course. These two terms (violence and nonviolence) ostensibly are boundaries placed around sets of tactics. there are proximate goals and ultimate goals. enacting tactics out of a habitual response or marshalling tactics into a strategy without more than a vague appreciation of the goal. a slogan. but the tactics should always flow from the strategy. these days. white supremacy. For anarchists. use them consistent1 t hey WI'11 be more y than adequate for our purposes. This ultimate goal is very far away-so far away that many of us avoid thinking about 5 I 81 I . the farthest imaginable destination. who desire a world without coercive hierarchies. First. patriarchy. and the strategy from the goal. people often seem to do it in reverse. It is the condition that denotes victory. but as long as we STRATEGICALLY INFERIOR . and a static or utopian state is never reached. We need to follow the path of least resistance and hit them where they're weak. A limited set of tactics will constrain the available options for strategies.

and the tactics we choose from might include squatting a building. and are intensively involved with the tactics. extinction. Having already criticized pacifists' tendency to unify on the basis of common tactics rather than mutual goals. It is frustrating that all the controversy over "violence" and "nonviolence" is simply bickering over tactics. I will show that none of these strategies confer an I 82 I I 83 I . we want to set up a free clinic. Finally. which are the actions or types of ac­ tions that produce results. and whether our strategies are complementary or counterproductive. Let's pretend that we all want complete liberation. for the most part. Would-be revolutionaries in the US. pacifist strategies blend elements of two or more of these types. It is the coordinated symphony of moves that leads to the checkmate. and a legacy of millennia of domina­ tion and degradation. In the face of genocide. Focusing on the immediate realities is vital. For nonviolence to be more effective than revolutionary activism. the creation of alternatives. The trade-off tends to be a total avoidance of intermediate and long-term goals. setting up free clinics is merely a tactic. Throwing a brick through a window is a tactic. these results have a compound­ ed effect. as they often have well­ developed strategies in pursuit of short-term goals. In one regard." The four major types of pacifist strategy are the morality play. but ignoring the destination ensures that we will never get there. that is our goal. are most negligent when it comes to strategies. I will leave aside the liberal. At this level. the total pool of tactics available to nonviolent activists is inferior. we backstab allies or forswear participation in the struggle over trivial matters like smashing windows or arm­ ing ourselves? It boils one's blood! To return to our cool and reasoned analysis of these matters. as they can use only about half the options open to revolutionary activists. we have tactics. the game plan for achieving the goal. building momentum or concentrating force along the lines laid out by the strategy. the lobbying approach. and training ourselves in popular (nonprofessional) health care. and the relationship among the elements of a particular chain of goal-strategy-tactics exists on each level. and probably elsewhere. We decide on an illegalist strategy (based on the assessment that we can force the local powers to concede some autonomy or that we can go under their radar and occupy preexisting bubbles of auton­ omy). In terms of tactics. not even figured out whether our goals are compatible. Now suppose that in our lifetime. probably because the short-term goals and strategies of pacifists box them into dead ends that would be highly demoralizing if they were acknowledged. but often entirely forgo the creation and implementation of a viable strategy. in specific instances.PE1r. Our plan of attack might be to build a militant popular movement that is sustained by autono­ mous institutions that people identify with and struggle to protect from inevitable government repression. strategies. Letter writing is a tactic. They have a rough idea of the goal. That leaves a difference of strategies and tactics. in a particular ar· rangement of tactics that achieves an unrivaled potency while avoid­ ing all of the tactics that might be characterized as "violent. Ideally. or a tactic depending on the scope of observation. pro-establishment pacifists and charitably assume a rough similarity of goals between nonviolent and revolutionary activists. nonviolent activists typically have a leg up on revolutionary activists. and. The strategy is the path. a strategy.R GfLDERLOOS NONVIOlENCE ISTACTICAllY&' SffiATEGICAll !NFERlOR Y it because we may find we do not believe it is possible. and general­ ized disobedience. which presumes to chart the course for reaching the goal of liberation from the state. A short-term goal may be a long-term tactic. we want to overthrow the state. Suppose that in the next year. but the same thing could be viewed as a goal. and tactics correlate on a common plane. There are multiple levels of magnitude. The distinctions ars arbitrary. Clearly. when people have. nonviolence is nothing but a severe limitation of the total options. one of many actions that build power along lines recommended by the strategy. • the difference would have to be in the strategies. informal fundraising. imprisonment. it is worth noting that goals.

they do not lead anywhere. distributing pamphlets and other informational texts. to change people's opinions and win people's support in a campaign. The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Yet the majority of public I 84 I I 85 I . (It is important to note what is meant by "support" in these two examples: verbal and mental support. as we shall see. One incarnation of this strategy is to educate people. Education might influence people to donate money or join a protest. He directed public relations programs for every US president from Calvin Coolidge. Samuel Goldwvn. Alternative media was there-enabled by the internet it reached an especially large number of Americans."3 Since then. or drown out any ideological threat.Those who manipulate this unseen mech­ anism of society constirute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our counrry. this strategy misses the point entirely. and holding protests and rallies to capture people's attention and open space for discussion of the issue. or it could mean edu­ cating people about the oppressions of government and influ­ encing them to support anarchy. and Commerce.! The quote above. It should have been a model for the success of this strategy. written in 1928. Thomas Edison. the American Tobacco Company. The people were there-protests prior to the invasion were immense.PElr. to Dwight Eisenhower in the late 1950s. Bernays was not some fringe con­ spiracy theorist. though the involvement of protest participants rarely went beyond the vo­ cal and symbolic. but it runs into several fatal barriers that prevent seri­ ous headway in pursuit of any long-term goals. and Procter & Gamble. Propaganda. discredit. to disseminate information and propaganda. Most of us are familiar with these tactics. we think it means we can create change by circulating ideas supported by facts. the propaganda machine can mobilize to counter. Pacifism can't even keep itself from being co-opted and watered down-how do pacifists expect to expand and recruit? Nonviolence focuses on changing hearts and minds. [Bernays's] clients included General Motors. The first barrier is elite control of a highly developed propaganda system that can decimate any competing propaganda system nonvio­ lent activists might create. and. in 1925. using alternative and corporate media to focus on and spread information about the issue. The information was there-facts debunking the lies about weapons of mass destruction and the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida were publicly available months before the invasion began. factionalize. the US Departments of State. Consider the recent US invasion of Iraq. as we would expect from an education strategy. but it rarely encourages people to change their life priorities or take substantial risks. is from Edward Bernavs's important book. as this is a common strategy for achieving change.R GElDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &-' SlRATEGlCAllY INFERIOR advantage on nonviolent activists. Henry Ford. Health. We are taught that information is the basis of democracy. though. This could mean educating people about poverty and influencing them to oppose the closing of a homeless shelter.) The tactics used for this education strategy would include holding speeches and forums. the public relations industry that Bernays helped form has only grown. The morality play seeks to create change by working on people's opinions. he was very much a part of the invisible government he describes. As such. Depending on the specific variation-educating or occupying the moral high ground-different tactics prove useful. Whether against a local grassroots campaign or the broader struggle for revolution. in fact. United Fruit. in fact. without examining the true meaning of that statement. Eleanor Roosevelt. but it un­ derestimates the culrure industry and thought control by the media. The strat­ egy can be mildly effective in achieving very minor and fleeting victories. all of them are weak and shortsighted.

in full accordance with its nature. while being incur­ ably skeptical and derisive toward revolutionary ideas or sugges­ tions that the current system is rotten to the core. it cannot go toe to toe with the corporate media. Because of this. and polemics. the corporate media did not disclose this information until significant segments of the elite themselves began to oppose the war-not because the war was wrong or because they had been educated and enlightened. Beyond market pressures exists the problem of government regulation and inter­ vention. The airwaves are the domain of the state. And. which can and does shut down or undermine radical radio stations that manage to find funding. Examples include anti-war ac­ tivists who declare that "peace is patriotic" because it would be too difficult to explain the problems with patriotism in the cur­ rent semiological terrain (never mind dynamiting the ~errain) and culture jammers trying to find radical "memes. more importantly. Regardless of economic class. People from poor backgrounds are more likely to be undereducated.LDrRLOOS NONVIOliNCEISTACTICAllY& STRATEGICAllY INfERIOR opinion in the US (which is what an education strategy seeks to capture) did not turn against the war until the corporate media began regularly disclosing information about the falsity of reasons for going to war and. many activists look to alternative media. most people in the US will respond to radical information and analysis with syllogism. I hope that all pacifists understand that the corporate media is as much an agent of au­ thority as is the police force or military. kept in a mental environment that discourages the development of their vocabularies and analytical skills. moralism. At its base it is a morality play. the mounting costs of the occupation." Even in such ideal circumstances. by the US-have also made a habit of repressing radical websites. The education approach seems to assume that revolutionary struggle is a contest of ideas. They will be more susceptible to pun­ dits arguing conventional wisdoms with familiar slogans than to people presenting challenging facts and analysis. of course. While spreading and further radicalizing alternative media is an important task."? A third barrier is a false assumption about the potency of ideas. Most people are not currently able to analyze and synthesize information that challenges the integral mythologies on which their identities and worldviews are based.PETER Gf. It is read­ ily apparent that while alternative media can be an effective tool in certain circumstances. and it I 86 I I 87 I . This is true across class lines. The overeducation of people from wealthy backgrounds turns them into trained monkeys. In what can best be described as a stupefying social environ­ ment." Governments around the world-led. the endless repetition and near-total information control of the corporate media are much more potent than solid. non­ violent activists using an education strategy could not overcome the corporate media. Alternative media is kept in check by a number of coercive market and legal factors. well­ researched arguments supported by facts. it cannot be the backbone of a strategy. but because they realized it was becoming counterproductive to US interests and US power. and the sponsors do not exist who will fund revolutionary press en masse. The Catch-22 is that there will be no loyal readership to subscribe to and fund a truly mass radical media as long as the general population is indoctrinated away from radical news sources and sedated by a culture of complacency. In the face of this. they are intensively trained to use analysis only to defend or improve the existing system. whether by imprisoning the webmaster on bogus charges or seiz­ ing equipment and shutting down servers on the pretext of some terrorism investigation. that there is something powerful in an idea whose time has come. activists taking an educational approach tend to dumb down the message so that they too can take advantage of the power of cliches and platitudes. primarily because of gross inequities of scale.f The second barrier in the way of educating people toward revolution is a structurally reinforced disparity in people's access to education. Getting information to millions of people is expensive.

Typically. but it guides the effective use of power. will not have an epiphany-they will lash back with a primal defense of the evils that privilege them. People trying to educate their way to revolution are tossing gasoline onto a prairie fire and expecting that the right kind of fuel will stop the fire from burning them. In the I 88 I I 89 I . Because of the hypocrisy of our times. we can multiply that force however many times we wish and still have a big. People need more than education in order to commit to a painful and drawn-out struggle that will destroy the power structures that have encapsulated their very identities. wealthy people will claim that they have more right to own a factory or a hundred acres of real estate than a poor person has to food and shelter. when argued into a corner. enlightened revolution. In fact. and. the more the narcotic illusion of so­ cial peace is disrupted. white supremacy. it has what military strategists would call a "force-multiplying effect. People will begin to see that the system is unstable and change is actually possible. people who benefit from patriarchy. Contrary to the maxim of the information age. Education will not necessarily make people support revolution. corporate media cannot ignore a bombing as easily as it can ignore a peaceful protest. (On the other hand. Good education can guide the efforts of an empowered social movement. Information itself is inert. thus. or labor. Idly circulating subversive information in the current context only gives the government more opportunities to fine-tune its propaganda and its ruling strategies. and. But militant tactics open up possibilities for education that nonviolence can never tap." And even though the media wilL slander such actions. many forms of education are necessary for building a militant movement and for changing the hierarchical social values that currently stand in the way of a free. Militant movements have to conduct a great deal of education to explain why they are force­ fully struggling for revolution and why they have given up on legal means. the more images of forceful resistance people receive through the media. Internal contradictions will emerge as the I struggle gets closer to home. white people will claim credit for the wonders of civiliza­ tion and insist that their ingenuity entitles them to the benefits of legacies of slavery and genocide. especially in the US. or bananas. much more than this is needed to educate people. cooperative world. men will joke about being the stronger sex and having a historically guaranteed right to rape. corporate consultants. Riots and insurrections are even more successful at creating ruptures in this dominant narrative of tranquility. Democratic illusions can only run so deep. media-driven democracies. people with privilege already know what they are doing and what their interests are.PETI. Of course. fat zero. even if it does. education will cause relatively few privileged people to truly support revolution. But a skilled debater will find that a majority of these people. challenging the privileges on which their worldview and life experiences are based and threatening the possibility of a comfortable. overcome the greatest obstacle to change created by capitalist. just as useful information guides the strategies ofgovernments. it will not build power. have to constantly strategize to continue increasing their power and effectiveness.R GELDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY&' SlRATEGlCAll INfERIOR Y ignores the fact that. or imperialism (nearly the entire population of the Global North) like to justify their complicity with systems of domination and oppression with any number of altruistic lies. capitalism. or government planners. education can be explosively effective when integrated into other strategies. Remember that Scientiaestpotentia (knowledge is power) is the watch phrase of those already at the helm of the state. and." If we have a social movement with zero force to begin with. even after they can no longer obfuscate the nature of global economic relations. in the end. On certain lev­ els. be they academics. a good number of technicians. We forget that to maintain the current power structure. a good many people on the side of authority know quite well what they are doing. US citizens will belligerently assert that they have a right to other people's oil. but the in­ formation itself will not change anything. information is not power. Because of its imperative prin­ ciples.

thus. has a slightly differ­ ent set of weaknesses but runs into the same dead end. there is little critical discourse or evaluation of the moralities involved. "Plowshares" anti-war activists often use this approach. employing a number of innovative means to sabotage corporate newspapers and radio and television stations. Churches. In the short term. I from pacifistic cult to the most pathologically violent and authori­ tarian religion humanity has ever conceived. Woe to its allies.PETER GrJJ)!'1U. However. And. the purpose is to induce the majority of a society into joining or supporting a movement. and many lonely suburbanites still grasping for a sense of belonging. to fight for a moral leader or ideal. As a type of strategy for social change. which is difficult to overcome given the same corporate-media barrier discussed above. occupying the moral high ground can be effective. and it's easy to do when your opponents are white supremacist. and it will be particularly prone to factionalism. either in particular or in general. hijack corporate media outlets and deliver an anti-capi­ talist broadcast. so they will overwhelmingly win the competition for new recruits. People will go to great lengths to fight for a cause they believe in. there are many gaps left unfilled by these moral institutions. but radical pacifists will never be able to win more than a minority of these. which is a more overtly moralistic variation on this type of strategy. we must destroy the corporate media and replace it with an entirely grassroots media. which evolved from opposition movement to potent weapon of the Roman Empire. However. vigils. and. the moral-high-ground approach sidesteps the challenge of educating a miseducated population by relying on extant moral values and simplifying revolutionary struggle to the zealous pursuit of a few principles. they are higher up and more visible in society. What mat­ ters more is the elevation of a particular high ground. people are unlikely to see a miniscule. Activists can use protests. having a morality that is more realistic or fair confers little actual advantage.OOS NONVIOilNCEISTACllCAllY &' STRATEGICAllY INffRIOR end. capitalist politicians. chauvinistic. or expropriate money to fund and greatly increase the capacities of grassroots media outlets. though. It will also be easily manipulated. Plowshares pacifists and anti-war hunger strikers are often lifelong members. obscure group as either moral or imitable. eventually abandoning its pacifism). and Boy Scout troops all occupy this niche as well. (We can leave aside the laugh­ able pretensions of simply enlightening or shaming the authorities into supporting revolution. and set themselves up as a righteous alternative. But a moralistic movement has a greater potential than an education-based movement for empowering itself and becoming a dangerous thing (that is.) Both variations face terminal odds in pursuit of that majority due to the effective structural controls I 90 I I 91 I . the corporate media is not the only institu- rion for manufacturing social conformity. Due to the atomization and alien­ ation of modern life. and various forms of denunciation and self-sacrifice to expose the immorality of government. and these mainstream moral institutions are far stronger than pacifist groups in terms of access to resources-in other words. in media-driven democracies. given the emphasis that morally elevated groups place on surrendering to in-group culture and values. Such a movement will exhibit a mass authoritarianism and orthodoxy.") Maintaining the moral high ground. Those they do win will be more empowered than the members of a movement that aims simply to educate. Elks lodges. which turn the greater part of politics into a popularity contest. In both variations of the morality-play approach to pacifist strategy. A group that focuses on occupying the moral high ground also atrracts potential recruits with something the corporate me­ dia cannot offer-an existential clarity and a sense of belonging. defend grassroots media outlets and punish the agencies responsible for repressing them. People who use a diversity of tactics can be much more effective at this. There is perhaps no better example than Christianity. occupying the moral high ground is weakened by the critical problem of obscurity.

Activists can build power by holding protests and demonstrating the existence of a constituency (on which their lobbyists bank). and occupying the moral high ground necessarily entails the creation of an inferior "other" to oppose. but without any experience or even intellectuaVmoral familiarity with real resistance. with a little bucket to bailout the water pouring in through a ten­ foot-wide hole. Some groups attempting to pressure the authorities do not appoint any specialized lobbyists. however. who are given strong incentives and are culturally bound to the system. Lobbyists will eventually identify more with the authorities than with their constituents-courting power. "revolutionary" lobbies are impo­ tent compared to opposing lobbies of the status quo. Meanwhile. Lobbying also leads to a hierarchical and disempowered movement. and public relations firms that are structurally immune to "changes of heart" and that automatically intervene in society to indoctrinate people in the morals that uphold hierarchical social relationships and capitalist production and consumption. Thus. and also when they take the lobby­ ing approach. while an educated. At the absolute best. the government would have recourse to easily exploitable flaws ingrained in the morality-play strategy. If politicians run up against a morally upright. Activist lobbies are most successful when they are willing to compromise their constituency (representative politics in a democracy being the art of selling out a constituency while maintaining its loyalty). strategies of this type usually can't even successfully lead to the dead end rhey inevitably create. they will simply deny that lobbyist an audience. but this method for funneling power to lobbies is much weaker. and it really should not qualify as a strategy. pretending we'll soon be high enough in the water to set sail toward our goal. they fall in love with it. public schools. Such a majority could always switch to some other type of strategy that involves fighting and winning. hard cash of corporations. Denying ourselves nonpacifist means to strengthen the movement and weaken or sabotage these structures leaves us in a sinking boat. trying to win hearts and minds without destroying the structures that have poisoned those hearts and minds. boot camps. than the cold. I 92 I I 93 I . pound for pound. the transi­ tion would be difficult. neither variation would be functionally capable of winning over more than a majority. Educating and building a liberating ethos are necessary to fully root out hierarchical social relationships. raise funds. This seems like waiting for pie in the sky. corporations). In a short-term battle to prevent a new coal mine or waste incinerator from coming into the neighborhood. and an ostensibly revolutionary movement would have constrained itself to a horribly mismatched battle. or hold protest signs. which history has shown is easy for an armed minority to control (colonialism. but there are concrete institutions such as law courts. for example). well-dressed minority who seek audience with politicians and other elites hold all the power. In the unlikely chance that these odds were overcome. it is possible to come up with a savvy media strategy within pacifist constraints (especially if your education campaign includes information about how the mine will harm privileged people in the area). they have still put themselves in the position of mobilizing pressure to get the system to change itself.PETER GflDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAUY &' STRATEGICAUY INFERIOR over culture within modern societies. Lobbies were built into the political process by institutions that already had significant power (for example. But in pursuit of any lasting changes. and betrayal becomes likely. The vast majority are simply sheep who sign petitions. and thus avoid developing an elite leadership that will be co-opted by the system. Even if education were to become a more effective tool with privileged people it will not work against the elite and the enforcing class. strategies of this type will lead to an oppositional but passive majority. pulling the rug out from under her organization. uncompromising lobbyist. Would-be revolutionaries exemplify the ineffectiveness of nonviolence in building power when they approach their struggle as a morality play.

Only such a threat can make the state reconsider its other inter­ ests. the Pentagon simply introduced an alter­ native bill which "closed" the SOA while immediately reopening it under a different name. Even "good government" will not redistribute power downward unless it is threatened with the loss of all its power. and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence. After this. Imagine if all the millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours from pro­ gressives and even radicals that went to lobby for some piece of leg­ islation or to defeat the reelection of some politician instead went into funding activist social centers. for example. nor a body en­ dowed with reasoning faculties. what will they have accomplished? At most. lose a little face. an Army school that trained tens of thousands of Latin American officers and soldiers who were complicit in most of the worst human-rights abuses and atrocities in their respective countries. the activists will lose their momentum and initiative. the organization used an­ nual passive protests. the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW). Nonviolent activists put all their energy into forcing authorities to hear their demands when they could use this energy to build power. Their organization's disillusioned members will drop out. They will have to go on the defensive. a huge amount of effort is wasted. to build a base from which to wage war.PEm GELDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &' STRATEGICAllY INffRIOR Nonviolent activists using the lobbying strategy attempt to craft a passive realpolitik to exercise leverage. SOAW almost had enough congressional support to pass a bill to shut down the SOA. activists using the lobbying approach fail to see that making demands to authority is bad strategy. thus those seeking land must threaten the regime. and the general public will perceive the organization as whiny and impossible to satisfy..the Front de Liberation Nationale. and education campaigns to build lobbying power to convince politicians to support a bill to close the School of the Americas (SOA). in a famous leaflet. and readjust their campaign to point out that the reform is a fraudulent one. "But only the most persistent and often violent rebels. (No wonder so many lobby-oriented activist organizations claim victory at the most hollow of comprornisesl) Consider. and free schools? We might actually lay the foundation for a serious revolutionary movement. Instead. because the state's primary interest is self-perpetuation. Sensing the danger. in real­ ity. The politicians took the easy exit and passed the Pentagon bill. Further. But the only way to use leverage against the state in pursuit of interests diametrically opposed to those of the state is to threaten the state's existence. II The lessons of Algeria and the Mexican revolution apply throughout history."l0 This was from a government supposedly allied with Mexico's agrarian revolutionaries-what do pacifists think they'll get from governments whose favored constituency is avowedly the corporate oligarchs? Frantz Fanon expressed the same sentiment in a similar way with regard to Algeria: When in 1956. If SOAW ever does succeed in closing the school by whatever name I 94 I I 95 I . documentaries. The struggle against authority will be violent. stated that colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat. the government will mutrer a brief apology. For more than a dozen years. change directions. community conflict-resolution centers. free clinics. prisoner-support groups. It isviolence in its natural state. received land from the new leaders of Mexico. Lobbying for social change is a waste of scarce resources for radical movements.. For years afterward. By 2001. The leaflet only expressed what every Algerian felt at heart: colonialism is not a thinking machine. like the Zapatistas. who claimed they wanted to wait and see if the "new" school was an improvement. no Algerian really found these terms too violent. and meet the demand on paper (though. John Tutino points out. If they are successful. they'll just juggle things around to obscure the problem). because authority itself is violent and the inevitable repression is an escalation of that violence. SOAW could not regain the support of many of the politicians. In his interpretive history of the Mexican revolution and land redis­ tribution. The lesson was clear: only those who threatened the regime got land.

SOAW will be caught without a viable strategy. without having made any dent in US militarism. while building these alterna­ tives is of the utmost importance in creating and sustaining a revo­ lutionary movement and laying the groundwork for the liberated societies that will come after revolution. key­ note speaker Howard Ehrlich advised todav's anarchists to act as though the revolution were already here and to build the-world we want to see.PETER GElDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY{5 STRATEGICAllY INfERJOR it calls itself." The alternative-building approach employs one important component of a revolutionary strategy but underestimates all the complementary components that are necessary for success. At the 2004 North American Anarchist Convergence. revolutionaries drive a harder bargain than those whose aim is to bargain. but as long as they are only able to take over factories that have already been abandoned. the factory takeovers) have greatly inspired anti-authoritarians. expanding public education and social spending. they have not created a model for actually replacing capitalism. civil rights legislation. The idea is that by creating alternative institutions. The radical workers' major weakness has been an inability to expand their movement by the expropriation of factories where the managers are still in charge. Leaving aside the meaninglessness of this advice for people in prison. the military can simply spread out its torture-training operations to other military bases and programs throughout the country. if radicals shifted their approach to directly fight US militarism. it is not headed toward a goal of replacing capitalism by spreading worker­ controlled alternatives." In actuality. Its practice and theory are in conflict because. By refusing to be placated. Decolonization. or shift most of that work to military advisers abroad. To be sure. bringing the Communist Party into the government. in general. simply a more participatory form of corporation. Africans dying of diarrhea simply because they are deprived of clean water. And the factory movement is on the defensive. or putting in their time at the barricades-fighting off police attempts to evict them with clubs and slingshots and building alliances with militant neighborhood assemblies so that the authorities fear a spreading of the conflict if they escalate their tactics. decentralizing some government functions. and legalizing birth control and abortion) in an effort to drain support from the militants' base through reformisrn. If that happens. Nonviolent anarchists '(many of whom are academics) who favor the strategy of peacefully creating alterna­ tive institutions use a watered-down interpretation of events in Argentina to inject some life into their otherwise limp strategy. and if they could constitute a real threat with­ out ever approaching a negotiating table." When has the US government ever let a law or treaty stop it from doing what it wanted to do? On the contrary. But the occupied factories in Argentina have survived by one of two means: either becoming legally recognized and recuperated into a capitalist economy. it is absolutely absurd to think that the government will sit back and let us build science­ fair experiments that will prove its obsolescence." Such a course would put them in greater conflict with the state than they are cur­ rently ready for. Radicals need never box themselves in or ensure betrayal by standing in a lobby or sitting down at the negotiating table. Iraqis trying to survive under occupation. they are providing an important and inspiring example. we can provide for an autonomous society and demonstrate that capitalism and the state are undesirable. Even when they lose. his statement makes me wonder how I 96 I I 97 I . and a majority of the world's other people. and nearly every other major reform was won in this manner. indigenous people faced with genocide. militant movements tend to cause reforms. Events in Argentina surrounding the 2001 economic col­ lapse (for example. The Red Brigades in Italy were ultimately unsuccessful. frightened government officials would begin drafting compromises and legislating reforms in an effort to prevent revolution. but they mounted such a threat that the Italian state instituted a number of far-reaching social-welfare and culturally progressive measures (for example.

the police. the police took an active interest in sabotaging the Black Panther program that provided free breakfast to children. the only significant military defections have occurred when the military faced violent resistance and the government seemed to be in its death throes. But behind closed doors. Even when mixed with more aggressive nonviolent methods. and business has been brought to a crawl: this is a crisis. the strategy itself has a number of gaping holes. the country's leaders agree that such methods are not preferable. it can never succeed in destroying power or delivering control of society to the people. Within six months the cops shut us down using a creative array of zoning laws and building codes. often condoning property destruction and symbolic physical resistance.Y INffRIOR Ehrlich could miss the lengthy history of government repression of autonomous spaces in service of revolutionary movements. They can use the military to break through any nonviolent barricade. Finally. and provided free food and clothes out of that space. Disobedience strategies seek to shut the system down through strikes. A rebellious population that is conducting sir-ins or throwing rocks cannot stand up to a military that has been given free reign to use all the weapons in its arsenal. probably for the comfort of US audiences. The illusion of democracy is not working: this is a crisis. that once everything was an "alternative. and restore order in the streets. for their part.PETER GElDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACfiCAlLY & SlRATEGICAll. retake any occupied factory. they are not in danger of being starved out by the strike. This tends to be the most permissive of nonviolent strategies. and other forms of disobedience and refusal. and seize the product of their labor if the rebels try to conduct an autonomous economy. the powerful face a crisis. and. Highways have been blockaded." and that the current paradigm developed and expanded precisely out of its ability to conquer and consume those alternatives? Ehrlich is right that we need to start building alternative in­ stitutions now. we have the nonviolent strategic approach of gen­ eralized disobedience. When a population engages in generalized disobedience. but wrong to de-emphasize the important work of destroying existing institutions and defending ourselves and our autonomous spaces in the process. although disciplined nonviolent campaigns of nonviolence and disobedience also fall within this type. Most importantly. Virginia. Perhaps they have not invited certain shamed members of the elite. and it would scare awayinvestors and hurt the economy. in recent decades. a strategy based on building alternatives that constrains itself to pacifism will never be strong enough to resist the zealous violence that capitalist societies em­ ploy when they conquer and absorb autonomous societies. While many of these tactics are extremely useful when building toward a real revolution­ ary practice. In Harrisonburg. and military leaders confer. government leaders. the powerful can arrest. busi­ ness leaders. highlighting resistance struggles from Palestine to Chiapas while conveniently hiding the signifi­ cant segments of those movements engaged in armed struggle. though some of this has been disabled by occupations and blockades. perhaps multiple factions are scheming to come out of this crisis on top. they still have control of the military and police (elites have learned much more about retaining the loyaltyof the military since the Rus­ sian Revolution. blockades." In the 1960s. This type of strategy can only create pressure and leverage. The recent film The Fourth World War17 is at the militant edge of this conception of revolution. and kill all the organizers. we set up an anarchist community center. drive the movement under­ ground. boycotts. So they win by letting the rebels declare victory: under pressure from business and military leaders. Using them would destroy the illusion of democracy for years. allowed homeless people to sleep there through the winter. have alwaysbeen loyal lackeys). How exactly are we supposed to build alternative institutions if we are powerless to protect them from repression? How will we find land on which to build alternative structures when everything in this society has an owner? And how can we forget that capital­ ism is not timeless. They control all the capital in the country. But the people in power still control a large surplus. they are a last resort. Behind closed doors. Ultimately. the president and I 98 I I 99 I \ . torture.

Within the same context as that required for generalized disobedience-a broad and well-organized rebellious movement-if we do not restrict the movement to nonviolence. (Of course. As we have seen. they take off the gloves and attempt to brutalize and dominate the movement. and activists in the popu­ lar movement. with Marcos in the Philippines and with Milosevic in Serbia (this latter example. People whom the authorities would love to see just up and die can win no leverage through disobedience. What disobedience strategies have succeeded in doing. and allows the perpetrators to escape and fight another day. a strategy of generalized disobedience has no relevance to already marginalized. managers. if they have constrained themselves to nonviolence rather than preparing for the inevitable escalation of tactics.) While somewhat useful to workers. if the social situation suggests that this will be more effective) will scare and anger people opposed to the liberation movement more than a peaceful lockdown will. surplus populations such as the many indigenous nations slated for expul­ sion or extermination. pro-US politicians). and even in that endeavor they are less effective than militant strategies. those who practice a diversity of tactics have the option to carry out a peacefullockdown or an act of sabotage. requires a more dramatic response from the authorities. In terms of shutting the system down. rather than dismiss it as a nuisance. This is what happened to the anti-authoritarian labor movement in the US in the 1920s.PETER GEillERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY&' SlRATEGlCAll INffRlOR Y a few other elected politicians step down (or. The genocidal campaign against them does not hinge on their cooperation or noncooperrtion. costs more to be cleared up. which cannot defend itself and survive without escalat­ ing tactics. does more to damage the morale and public image of the authorities. and they offer no counter to the ability of armed mi­ norities to control unarmed majorities. all of these popular coups were actually orchestrated and financed by the US to install more mar­ ket-friendly. the major types of nonviolent strategies all encounter insurmountable dead ends in the long term. they choose to hand over power to new regimes that they trust to honor the basic frameworks of capitalism and state. because their participation is not vital to the functioning of the aggressor state." It is not even proper to say the old regimes are "forced out. But it will also cause them to take the movement more seriously. better yet. and similar "revolutions" in Georgia. The Ache of the Amazon do not pay any taxes to withhold. lose just when they are finally at the threshold of revolution. Ukraine. thus. but support a diversity of tactics. time and time again. Morality­ play strategies misunderstand the way the state maintains control. and they do not work any jobs to walk out from. When they do not have the option of a transfer of power. In its long history. depending on their estimation of what the public response will be. they are blind to the barriers posed by media and cultural institutions. show the ineffectiveness of generalized disobedience in actually deliver­ ing social power to the people. is forcing out particular government regimes. it will be tremendously more effective. though these are always replaced by other regimes constituted from among the elite (sometimes reformist moderates and sometimes the leadership of the opposition movement itself). because their interests are fundamentally opposed to the interests of those who participate in the disobedience. there can be no comparison between peacefully locking down to a bridge or train line and blowing it up." Faced with rising disobedience and the threat of real revolution. The latter causes a longer-lasting ob­ struction. flee in a heli­ copter). This happened in India at the time of decolonization and in Argentina in 2001. this strategy type has not succeeded in caus­ ing the class of owners. and Lebanon. the corporate media call it a revolution and begin trumpeting the populist credentials of the replacement president (who has been picked by the business and military leaders). The lobbying approach I 100 I I 101 I . Generalized disobedience strategies attempt to shut down the system. Blowing up a train line (or using some less dramatic and less threatening form of sabotage. and enforcers to defect and be disobedient.

they can protect their organization from being demonized in the media. or if they were so enthusiastic about loving their enemy that they swallowed whole the suggestions of that enemy for how to con­ duct the resistance. which leads me to wonder if pacifists came up with these ideas independently. Nonviolent activ­ ists do not need to employ nonviolence codes to keep themselves peaceful. At this point. In the years afterward. whom they pressure in advance to get the protest to police itself. OUT Enemies in Blue." police liaisons. Nonviolence plays into community. two examples that are worth going into. and pros­ trate themselves before the reigning order. they have already lost the media war. They also disadvantage us in interactions with the police and media. Strategies centered on build­ ing alternatives ignore the state's ability to repress radical projects and capitalism's talent for absorbing and corrupting autonomous societies. the police developed com­ munity policing strategies-to improve their image and control potentially subversive community organizing-and crowd control tactics emphasizing de-escalation. and thus change the prospects for future struggles. Nonviolent strategies prevent this work. redistribute wealth. They whip out the nonviolence code as proof that they were not responsible for the violence. policing and crowd control strategies. The long-term view that shows these nonviolent strategy types to be ineffective also makes the chances of any militant strategy seem bleak. ~ I 102 I I 103 I . They do it to enforce ideological conformity and to as­ sert their leadership over the rest of the crowd. seeing as how most anarchist communities in the US today are probably completely unprepared to defend them­ selves against the state. Either way. The tactics of pacifism. The police allow minor forms of disobedience while maintain­ ing communication with protest leaders. the police lost control. But it is in our everyday organizing that anti-authoritarians can strategically overcome passivity and foster militancy. "Peace marshals. Kristian Williams documents how the crisis of the 1960s and 70s demonstrated to police that their methods of dealing with popular insurrection (such as urban riots and militant protests) only encouraged more resistance and more violence on the part of the resisters. and destroy the repressive apparatus of the state. We condemn the actions of extremists who are ruin­ ing this protest for the well-meaning people who care about ." The resistance was empowered. so that if any uncontrollable elements do act violently during a protest. In his recent book detailing the history and development of the modern US police forces. like many of the tactics of mod­ ern crowd control policing.PETER GELDERLOOS NONVIOUNCE ISTACllCAllY &' SlRATEGICAll INffRIOR Y wastes resources trying to pressure the government into acting in contradiction to its own interests. The typical exchange goes something like this: Reporter: What do you have to say about the windows that were smashed in today's protest? Protestor: Our organization has a well-publicized nonviolence pledge. and march permits are all aspects of this police strategy. are designed to de-escalate potentially insurrectionary situations. They also do it as insurance. Nonviolent codes of conduct for protest actions contradict the number-one rule of media relations: always stay on message. we can organize disruptive protests when they are needed and fight for the interests of our community or our cause without compromise. Descriptions of these tactics t6 mirror exactly pacifist recommendations for conducting protests. Generalized disobedience strategies open the door revolution but deny popular movements the tactics necessary to expropriate direct control of the economy. as long as we continue to tolerate nonviolent leadership. saving the forests/stopping the war/halting these evictions. and the government had to send in the military (further eroding the illusion of democracy and opening the possibility of real rebellion). But if we refuse to de-escalate and to cooperate with the police. Nonviolence also leads to bad media strategies. as a function of their implicitly statist mentality. the police will have us right where they want us.

1901. The nonviolent activists exemplified in this skit waste their fleeting spotlight by going on the defensive. otherwise. Realizing that this is a war can help us decide what we need to do and craft effective strategies for the long haul. winning hearts and minds. not least of all. speaking truth to power.NCf ISTACTICAlLY &' SlRAITGICAlLY lNffRIOR Activists rarely get more than two-line quotes or ten-second clips in the corporate media. often alone. imperialism. Millions of people die every year because a few corporations and their allied governments do not want to allow the production of generic AIDS drugs and other medicine. backstabbing allies in public and dividing the movernent. The government politely pre­ tends it would never kill us if we challenged its authority.] If pressed. a militant conception of revolution seems more impractical than a nonviolent conception. Activists should only answer in concise statements that tactfully address the issue. and. and not because we are acting impulsively. bearing witness. they are stillborn. And revolution is an intensification of that war.f.. because we realize that some people are already fighting. But if activists are more concerned with clearing their names than addressing the issue. they can avail themselves of subsequent opportunities to clear their names while again driving home the issue at hand (with tactics such as writing letters to the editor or protesting a media outlet's libelous accusations). Do you think the institutions and the elite individuals who hold the power of life or death over millions give a fuck about our protests? They have declared war on us. and some other parts of the world live under the illusion of democracy. activists might insist that they were not personally responsible for the property destruc­ tion and cannot comment on the motivations of those who were. In his annual address to Congress. but because we have weighed the possibility of freedom against the certainty of shame from living under whatever form of domination we are faced with in our par­ ticular corner of the globe. on December 3.Pf1rR GB. Millions of people die every year on this planet for no better reason than a lack of clean drinking water. (But it is best not to talk with members of the corporate media as though they were human beings because they rarely comport themselves in such a manner. but that is a thin veneer. and patriarchy all constitute a war against the people of this planet. and we need to take it back to them. making their issue secondary to the concerns of the elite (prop­ erty destruction by protestors). for their liberation. Europe.) If activists are successful in keeping the fo­ cus on the actual issue. Those of us liv­ ing in North America. failure. the state. or any other passive parade. [Insert potent facts about the issue.P That exchange should have looked like this: Reporter: What do you have to say about the windows that were smashed in todav's protest? Protestor: It pales in comparison to the violence of deforesta­ tion/the war/these evictions. and disorganization to the public (by simultaneously tak­ ing responsibility for other protestors while bemoaning failure to control them).OOS NONVlOI. not to get revenge. they let them die.. white supremacy.Df. Not because we are angry (though we should be). seemingly admitting weakness.R!. People need to understand that capitalism. We cannot liberate ourselves and create the worlds we want to'live in if we think of fundamental social change as shining a light in the darkness. editors are likely to run inane quotes and censor informative or challenging quotes. Because the governments and corporations that have usurped control of the commons have not found a way to profit from those people's lives. speaking of the enemy of I 104 I I 105 I . but this is because it is realistic. President Theodore Roosevelt. capturing people's attention. At first glance. and that they have a right to and we should support them. or asked by law enforcement. and because we understand that the overlapping prisons that entomb our world have by now been so cleverly constructed that the only way to free ourselves is to fight and destroy these prisons and defeat the jailers by whatever means necessary.

repression. Many of those dissidents do not understand this. if they wave the flag with all the rest.PETfR GELDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &' STRATEGICAllY INrERIOR the day. But if we insist on disloyalty. Bush announced: "Either you are with us. The slaughter of a peaceful group of Cheyenne and Arapaho at Sand Creek only brought applause from the white citizenry of the Union. and insurgency. If the people do not see a resistance movement as legitimate or important. General Frank Kitson. we can easily establish the factor that determines whether government repression will be a popular measure in the court of public opinion. Quite evidently. Pacifists claim they are more effective because they are more likely to survive repression. The gullible assumption on which this reasoning is based is that governments are ruled by public opinion. this quote poses an interesting question. and social-control theoretician whose strategies have been disseminated and adopted by state planners and police agencies in the US. then regardless of our personal affiliations Bush has judged us as terrorists. and the Justice Department has demonstrated that it might prosecute us as such-in its campaign against the radical environmental activ­ ists it has labeled "ecoterrorists'Ir'? in the Joint Terrorism Task Force's spying on dissidents. rather than vice versa. but against all active and passive sympa­ thizers with anarchists. That factor is the popular legitimacy. But the pacified resistance in the US is not comfort­ able in the role of freedom fighter. and in the harassment. President George W. nonviolence. but it also has the advantage of being realistic. in September 2001. similar was the national response to the repression of harmless "communists" in the 1950s. which the resistance movement enjoys-it has nothing to do with violence or nonviolence. the path to revolution envisioned by militant activists is much more dangerous and difficult than the one envisioned by pacifists. or you are with the terrorists. British attempts to repress the Irish Republi­ I 106 I ) 107 I . breaks social disturbances down into three stages: preparation. whereas states are unable to use overwhelming violence against pacifists because there can be no justification. We could proudly recognize that "terrorist" has been governments' label of choice for freedom fighters for decades. the state is more afraid of militant groups than nonviolent groups. But if the people sympathize with the resistance movement. Of course we can reject Bush's demand that if we do not line up with Osama bin Laden then we should declare allegiance to the White House. and deportation of Muslims and immigrants that has been the major domestic "security" activity of the government since Sep­ tember 11.'?' One hundred years later. or lack thereof. and they do what they can to keep dissidents and disaffected masses held back in the first two stages. Instead of acknowledging the war that already exists. Z4 Police understand this. declared: "We should war with relentless efficiency not only against anarchists. and certainly this honor is premature given the state of our movement. But at times of peak popularity. But this logical juggling is worth examining. The state understands that it has to react more forcefully and energetically to neutralize militant revo­ lutionary movements. whether we admit it or not. they will cheer even when the government carries out massacres. we have shuffled over to the safe side of Bush's dichotomy. The reasoning is that militants give the state an excuse to eliminate them (the excuse being self-defense against a violent enemy). and nonviolence has been our excuse. unlike the pacifist fan­ tasy. and I have used this as evidence that militant groups are more effective. and they prevent themselves and their allies from going all the way. They do not understand what it will take to redistribute power in our society. I have heard quite a few nonviolent activists turn this very fact on its head to argue that nonviolent attempts at revolution are more effective because militant attempts will be sav­ agely repressed (and in other chapters I have quoted these activists to show that their primary concern is their own safety)."lZ Aside from showing how little our government has changed in a century. True. police. Getting past the sophistry of nonviolence. then government repression will foster more resistance. an influential British military.

Militant groups understand that they need to overcome the state. both within Ireland and internationally. and. they will be isolated and on the run. they may as well have." and civil disobedience. or some other swill. this was a step along the road of their repression. A state decides to repress activists and social movements when it perceives dissidents' goals as threatening and achievable. They were jailed. The IWW's goal (abolition of wage labor through the gradual shortening of the work week) was a threat to the capitalist order." or by disseminating heartwrenching im­ ages of cardboard puppets through the media. in addition to IWW organizers from Sacra­ mento and Wichita. through World War I and the 1920s." or their "nonviolent witness. Strong popular support al­ lows a radical movement to survive repression. whereas a militant group. the union never fully rejected nonviolence. The government is able to repress both nonviolent and mili­ tant groups without causing a backlash so long as it has control over the ideological terrain. Pacifists. "free speech fights. If the goal is to seize or destroy state power. the organization did not even take a position to oppose World War I. have the option of forswearing confrontation with state power and pretending they are engaged in some process of magically transforming the state through the "power of love. One hundred Chicago Wobblies were put on trial in 1918. they are that much closer to victory."27 The Wobblies accommodated state power and paci­ fied themselves. The IWW withdrew similar books and pamphlets from circulation and "officially renounced the use of sabotage by any of its members. "In the end. The way they were subsequently treated by federal and state officials. However. on the other hand. is a direct challenge to the state mo­ nopoly on force. and agents of the state think there is any chance of approaching that goal. In the last decade. they will repress or destroy the movement. and the size of the union gave it the power to circulate these dangerous ideas and carry out significant strikes. however. In the earlier days. none of these actions saved the union from repression because the government had already identified it as a threat to be neutralized. it never regained its hold on the American labor movement. "the dynamic force of the union was lost. protest.rEITRGELDERLOOS NONVIOUNCE ISTACTlCAllY &' SlRATEGICAll INffRIOR Y can Army (IRA) only brought more support for the IRA and more shame to the Brits. by its very existence. In response to state pressure. Serbian attempts to crush the Kosovo Liberation Army had the same effect. the IWW had nearly half a million members and active supporters. and its main tactics were education. Nonviolent groups can operate with less cultural independence and popular support because they tend to aim lower and pose less of a threat. lynched. the government accused them of sedition. in the United States. At its peak in 1923. if a movement has built popular support for militant struggle against the state. and criminal syndicalism."25 The Wobblies also accommodated state demands for pas­ sivity by suppressing a pamphlet of a 1913 Elizabeth Gurley Flynn speech encouraging sabotage. regardless of the tactics advocated. renouncing violent tactics. advocating violence. The IWW's above-ground organization and centralized structure made it an easy target for government repres­ sion."26 Of course. beaten. Does violence encourage repression? Not necessarily. I I 109 I . Let us consider some case studies and compare the repression of the Wobblies with that of the immigrant Italian anarchists or the Appalachian miners. the leadership decided against explicitly encouraging the membership to violate the law [by opposing the draft]. The prevalence or scarcity of pacifism is a good barometer for the weakness of the movement. All were convicted. the union was militant: some of the IWW leaders encouraged sab­ otage. \ 108 The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)-members were known as "Wobblies"-was an anarchist labor union seeking the abolition of wage labor. All three cases took place in the same time period. After the imprisonment and other repression (including lynch­ ings of IWW organizers in some cities). until they help create a broad culture of resistance (or unless they arise out of such a culture).

holding protests. they could be targeted with WASP xenophobia and threatened with deportation. The feds organized a massive investigation and manhunt but never caught anybody. 33The only consequences that the government agents responsible for repressing the Wobblies had to deal with were promotions. Pittsburgh. But the Galleanists left their deepest mark with their refusal to accept government repression. security-conscious forms of organization that the Italians' concept of militant revolution influenced them to adopt. and they almost killed US attorney general A. Immigrant Italian anarchist militants living in New England survived government repression at least as well as the Wobblies. but unlike the Wobblies.30 In fact. Mario Buda. Paul Avrich has established the bombing to be the work of a lone Galleanist.") The Galleanists' uncompromising response to state repres­ sion had at least some measurable results in discouraging repression (aside from making both government and factory bosses afraid to do anything to further incite their workers. Renouncing violence prevented them from defending that vision." who threw themselves into the class war. and publishing some of the most uncompromising and revolutionary anti-war tracts in papers such as Cronaca Sovversiva (which the Justice Department declared "the most dangerous newspaper published in this country"). and destroyed. yet the others were able to stay highly active. This was. was finally suppressed by the authorities. several of them were shot to death by police at anti-war pro­ tests. as it were. From 1919 to 1920. the Galleanists avoided being arrested en masse. though they remained active and un­ compromising and did not fold as quickly as the Wobblies. Through the threat of letter bombs. making speeches. due to the decentralized. in part. Philadelphia. to which many of the activists fled or were deported.PEm Gf.P. and for several years these anarchists were key opponents to Mussolini. and the focus of immigrant Italian anarchist activ­ ity returned to Italy. Mitchell Palmer. and imprisoned more than a dozen more. Cronaca Sovversiva. Some of these attacks were well-coordinated cam­ paigns involving multiple simultaneous bombings. lest they join the anarchist bomb throwers). The end of their movement in the United States was not the end of their movement overall.U)I'RLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY&' SlRATEGlCAll INfERIOR Y The government repressed them because of the radicalism and popularity of their vision. (In fact. That act killed 33 people. about 80 of them were deported. And it should be noted that the Galleanists were especially at risk of government repression because. who. and with only partial success." The government undertook major efforts to repress the Italian anarchists. unlike many of the Wobblies. they also found time to organize against the rising tide of fascism in the US. mostly in response to the arrest or killing of comrades by state forces. among other things. DC. the height of the Red Scare took its toll on the Italian anarchists. though their ranks were much smaller and their tactics more spec­ tacular-they bombed the homes and offices of several government officials. they caused the prodigal Bureau of Investigation detective who had been instrumen­ tal in tracking down and arresting several of their comrades in 1918 to go into hiding and then leave the bureau entirely in 1919. the House of Morgan. who escaped to Italy and continued his work until he was arrested by the Mussolini regime. Government forces killed a few by police action or judicial execution. however. The largest was the 1920 bombing of Wall Street in response to the frame-up of Sacco and Vanzetti (who were not involved in the Braintree robbery for which they were executed but probably played sup­ port roles in some of the Galleanist bombings). The Galleanists energetically supported labor organizing in New England factories and were key supporters of several major strikes. In October 1920." The most militant of the Italian anarchists were the Galleanists. caused $2 million in damage. Unlike the Wobblies. J. like I no I I 111 I . They carried out dozens of bombings in New England cities and in Milwaukee. New York. Morgan's capitol build­ ing of American finance. and elsewhere. they vocally and openly organized against World War I. the newspaper that served as a hub for many of the Galleanists.

(In fact. they organized opposition to the rising communist and fascist dictatorships (they were at the "forefront of antifascist struggle" in Little Iralvs throughout the US). J. and mundane violence of successful occupation. was published for another 40 years.r') And some of the exiled Italian anarchists took part in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. police and company thugs opened fire on miners' encampments.37 More recently... They opened fire on scabs and killed several coal-company thugs and deputies sent to repress them. none of the bombers were ever caught.The very nature of the movement's suspicion and operational security enhancements makes infiltration difficult and time consuming. If the Iraqi resistance is overcome. a guerrilla conflict and then a full-blown war developed. in his capacity as sheriff. anarchists carried out several more bombings. this despite being imprisoned and their continued call for violent revolution and bombing campaigns against the authorities. The 1921 Mine War in West Virginia offers another example of government responses to militant tactics. actually fought against the repression carried out by company thugs. one of the most pressing issues of the day. they gunned down Sid Hatfield. machine guns. Far from being universally alienating figures. The US Army responded with thousands of troops. From 1926 to 1932. so naturally pacifists cannot confront violence directly. and the Iraqi people will be much further away from liberation. Pacifism sees victory as avoiding or decreasing vio­ lence. Yet nonviolent activists are prone to misinterpret this apparent peace as a victory."35 With an international focus. much as I 112 I I 113 I . and the person whose call to the police got the two arrested. the union miners backed down. the new Bureau of Investigation director. police strategists writing about the anarchist movement have noted. In the most famous massacre. the governor. West Virginia. targeting women and children. who was especially active in repressing the union miners. Any real resistance to military occupation would lead to an increase in violence (as the occupiers attempt to stamp out resistance) before liberation and the possibility of real peace-it has to get worse be­ fore it gets better. The Italian anarchists also continued to agitate and spread their ideas-the successor to Cronaca Sovversiva. and even bombardment by airplanes in what became known as the Battle of Blair Moun­ tain.PETER GPLDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &' STRATEGICAllYINfERIOR his American colleagues. Their supporters on the outside did not disappoint them. supplied the fascists with invaluable information for the specific purpose of destroying the Italian anarchisrs. Excluding the tendency of pacifists to roll over in advance so they never pose a threat of changing anything. targeting the judge. very few of them got serious prison sentences-most of the rebels received no punishment at all-and the government eased off some­ what and allowed the unionization of the mines (their union still exists today). After the battle. the situation will appear more peaceful. Though Italian anarchism in the US "never recovered" after 1920. Thousands of armed miners formed an army and marched on Logan.P" So the claims that nonviolent groups are more likely to survive repression do not stand up to scrutiny. in reality. "Intelligence gathering among the most rad­ ical-and often most violent-factions is particularly difficult.. who. to remove (and hang) the sheriff there. Consider a few timely points regarding nonviolent so-called resistance to the US occupation of Iraq. But despite participating in one of the century's largest acts of armed mutiny. Sacco and Vanzetti won the support of their communities-Italians as well as WASPs-and the support of public figures in the US and Europe. When the mine owners repressed the efforts of the miners to form unions-firing union members and bringing in scabs-Appalachian rebels responded forcefully. invisible. the spectacular violence of warfare will have turned into the threatened. into the 1960s. the executioner. On several occasions. Edgar Hoover. it seems that actually the opposite is true. "the anarchists by no means vanished from the scene.36 and also turned Sacco and Vanzetti's support campaign into a world­ wide cause. but. feared them and prioritized their repres­ sion. In time. L'Adunata dei Refrattari.

" If we accept the premise of the black revolution­ ists in this country.. The approach of the US anti-war movement in relation to the Iraqi resis­ tance does not merely qualify as bad strategy: it reveals a total lack of strategy. People in the US who claim to be anti-war use nonviolence as an excuse to avoid their responsibility to support the Iraqi resistance.The only impression it seems to have made on Hitler was to excite his impulse to trample on what. when it is an accessible fact..I"? The history of its practice leads me to the same conclusion: nonviolence cannot defend itself against the state. thirty-one non-violent "defenders" had to deal with six "armed" men representing a United States-supported "right wing Canadian government [which had] occupied major portions of the Canadian heartland. Canada. thirteen of the defenders were "dead".Actually.. to the occupation ofIraq is the resistance being waged by the Iraqi people themselves. namely. In a thirty-one hour experiment on Grindstone Island in Ontario Province. As explained in one study of revolution in modern societies: During World War II the Germans were not familiar with passive resistance (when it occurred). less ruthlessness can hardly be expected . much less over­ throw it.. What nonviolent anti-war activists are unable to realize is that the most important resistance. in this case.. On the whole. and whose ruthlessness was thereby restrained. is a greater obstacle than the fear of government repression to building relationships of solidarity and becoming critical allies to the most liberatory of resistance groups. "role-playing" experiments in "civilian defense" have already taken place. If attempts to overthrow such a power structure survive the first stages of re­ pression. patriarchal fundamentalists. probably the only significant resistance. to anyone who cares to know. in August 1965. the participants "concluded that the experiment had been a defeat for non-violence. to his mind. but roday's armed forces are far better prepared to cope with non-violence" both techni­ cally and psychologically. The power of the state is self-perpetuating. Pacifism cannot defend itself against uncompromising extermination. Nonviolence.. The proclaimed power of nonviolence is a delusion that gives its practitioners safety and moral capital to make up for an inability to win. was contemptible weakness...Advocates of non-violence. and people using nonviolent tactics cannot defeat a military. Condemning them all ensures that the only groups getting outside support are the authoritarian." At the end of the experiment. it will defeat liberation movements with any means at its disposal. the elite will turn the conflict into a military one. even though bombing intensified and a US-backed regime continued to occupy South Vietnam.. "are inclined to overlook that fact that its main successes have been obtained against opponents whose code of morality was fundamentally simi­ lar. It might be interesting to try to depict the course of a non­ violent insurrection .PETER GllDERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAlLY&'SlRATEGICAlLY INffRlOR they interpreted the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam as a victory. They also parrot corporate media propaganda and pretend that all Iraqi resistance groups are composed of authoritarian. that the Iraqi resistance contains a great diversity of groups and ideologies... and it is something we need to fix. that we live in a racist society." Americans who condemn this while lacking any personal knowledge of what it is like to organize resistance in Iraq only flaunt their igno­ rance. fundamentalist ones.. I 114 I I 115 I . one Brit­ ish military specialist reminds us. patriarchal.. The strategies of nonviolence cannot defeat the state-they tend to reflect a lack of understanding of the very nature of the state. the Iraqis have chosen armed struggle.

I have encoun­ tered the simplistic counterargument that because some particular militant NONVIOLENCE IS struggle or act of violence was unsuc­ DELUDED cessful.Ward Churchill has argued that paci­ fism is pathological. Ireland. at the least. and the temporary breathing room won for the Lakota by Crazy Horse and his warriors. To convincingly argue against this possibility. pacifists would have to show that 6 I 117 I . History is full of examples: revolu­ tions in North and South America. To restate that: everyone must admit that struggles using a diversity of tactics (including armed struggle) can succeed. except for the state. or even becoming the prevalent force in society. Cases in point include collectivization in the Spanish Civil War and in Makhno's Ukraine. the advancement of non­ violence as a revolutionary practice in the present context is dependent on a number of delusions. to some. Cuba. after showing that the victo­ ries of nonviolence were not victories at all. China. and so forth. France. Vietnam. It is also not terribly controversial to assert that anti-authoritarian militant movements have suc­ ceeded for a time in liberating areas and creating positive social changes in those areas. I would say rhat. is whether militant movements can win and survive in the long term while remaining anti-authoritarian. It is not controversial to assert that militant social movements have succeeded in changing society. Where to begin? Often. the autonomous zone in the Shinmin Province created by the Korean Anarchist Communist Federation. I don't recall ever hearing anyone say that the use of violence ensures victory. Algeria. I hope everyone can see the difference between showing the failures of pacifist victories and showing the failures of militant struggles that no one ever claimed as victories. "violence" is equally ineffec­ tive. What is debatable.

There is no pain-free road to liberation. pacifists prefer to characterize themselves as righteous than to logically defend their position. they do not face a point of no return after which there is no going back to a comfortable life. revolutionary activism. and emphasized in his writings the need for militant black people to study their historical relationship to their oppressors and learn the "scientific principles" of urban guerrilla warfare." In fact. Given the inevitability of suffering. and most do. but. a government commission found that the typical ri­ oter (in addition to being proud of his or her race and hostile to white people and middle-class black people) "is substantially bet­ ter informed about politics than Negroes who were not involved in the riots. Compare this with the recent comfortable. Nonviolence 'is the easy way out. they would no longer be oppressed.?" George Jackson educated himself in prison. and the authors conclude by tacitly threatening that militant activism on the part of people of color will result in abandonment and betrayal by powerful white "allies. and required new members to educate themselves on the political theories behind their revolution. People who choose to commit themselves to nonviolence face a far more comfortable future than those who choose to com­ 'mit themselves to revolution.? When he was finally captured and brought to trial. Jr. This is something that pacifists have not done and cannot do. no less)." To wit: As for unfairness. but in the question-and-answer section they provide a veiled response to criticisms that pacifism is racist by painting "oppressed people" (black people) as angry and im­ pulse-driven. Kwame Nkrumah." a giving in to base emotions. and that violence is the"easy way out. the authors forestall criticisms of racism by dropping the name of a token person of color.' Pacifists delude themselves in thinking of revolutionary activism as being impulsive. "Q: Demanding nonviolent behavior from oppressed people toward their oppressors is senseless and unfair! They need to act out their anger!"! The authors' "answer" to this contrived criticism of nonviolence includes many of the typical and deluded fallacies already discussed: the authors counsel people who are far more oppressed than they are to have patience with conditions they couldn't possibly comprehend.) as imperatives. Often. the authors advise people of color to act in a way that is "ennobling and pragmatic". The authors of the essay "Why Nonviolence?" do their best throughout the en­ tire essay to avoid mention of race.' The Panthers read Mao. he knew he would end up either dead or in prison. unlike militant activists. Aside from reflecting an ignorance of the reality of the different consequences of certain political actions. irrational. Nonviolent activists can give their lives to their cause. and coming solely from "anger. After the Detroit riots of 1967. Most people who have heard the arguments of nonviolence have witnessed the formula­ tion or assumption that nonviolence is the path of the dedicated and disciplined. has a pronounced intellectual streak. They can always save themselves by compromis­ ing their total opposition. Many of his comrades are dead. commemorated deaths of David Dellinger and Phil Berrigan. if the oppressed could wish it away. A prisoner of the black liberation movement told me in correspondence that when he joined the struggle (as a teenager. "Act­ ing out anger" in a way that costs a group allies is a luxury serious movements cannot afford.PETIR GELDERLOOS NONVIOlENCEISDELUDED using violence against an authority inevitably makes one take on authoritarian characteristics. For continuing the struggle behind prison walls. in some of its manifesta­ tions. the belief that nonpacifist struggle is the easy way out is often tinged with racism. it is both en­ nobling and pragmatic to present nonviolent discipline and suffering (as did Martin Luther King. he has been locked up in solitary confinement for longer than I have been alive.' This is patently absurd. and Frantz Fanon. revolutionary New Afrikan anarchist Ku­ wasi Balagoon rejected the court's legitimacy and proclaimed the right of black people to liberate themselves in a statement many pacifists could learn volumes from: I 118 I I 119 I . and a few have.

People who fight for revolution do know what they are getting into. killed rats. I should note.. The last chapter of his book The Wretched of the Earth deals entirely with "colonial war and mental disorders. of the pacifist procla­ mation that revolutionary violence is impulsive. rarely rising above the regurgitation of hackneyed cliches and moralistic truisms. to expropriate money and arms. i'd rather be in jail or in the grave than do anything other than fight the oppressor of my people. to the extent that the horror of these things can be known.'? The cops know that they'll need one or two cops for every protes­ tor and that some of them are going to end up badly hurt. the writings of Frantz Fanon were among the most influential for black revolutionaries in the United States during the black liberation movement. and as for me. Legal rituals have no effect on the historic process of armed struggle by oppressed nations. helped turn rents into repair resources and collective ownership by ten­ ants and demonstrated whenever the needs of tenants were at stake. At the next protest. see how reluctant the police are to fence in militant groups such as the black bloc and subject them all to mass arrest. and we will win. physically fighting back discourages future attacks because it raises the costs of oppression incurred by the oppressor. Any knowledge of what revolutionaries prepare themselves for and go through demonstrates the cruelly ignorant farce. whether we use violent means or not-are more likely to understand the sacrifices involved. and that the Israeli state has no concern for the well-being of the Palestinians. represented tenants in court. Being an organizer for the Communi­ ty Council on Housing i took part in not only organizing rent strikes. on the other hand. for instance. that makes up a large part of the textbook used by the US in counterinsurgency warfare and wars of occupation up to the present moment)." In comparison... There can be no doubt that the Palestinians are an inconvenience to the Israeli state. who can then go into the crowd at their leisure and carry off the limp protestors one by one. stopped illegal evictions. But do pacifists? A further delusion (expressed by pacifists who want to appear militant and powerful) is that pacifists do fight back. We have a right to resist. The meek resistance of nonviolence only makes it easier for the attacks to continue.PETER GfIDERLOOS NONVIOllNCE ISDELUDID Before becoming a clandestine revolutionary i was a tenant organizer and was arrested for menacing a 270 pound colo­ nial building superintendent with a machete. Sitting down and locking arms is not fighting. it is a recalcitrant capitulation.. can be barricaded in by a relatively small number of cops. The amount of studious preparations required to successfully carry out militant actions. to bomb and do whatever else aids us in winning." with the psychological trauma incurred as a matter of course from colonialism and the "total war" waged by the French against the Algerian freedom fighters" (a war.Then i began to realize that with all this effort. Palestine is another example. People willing to acknowledge the violence of revolution-it is misleading to talk about choosing violence because violence is inherent in social revolution and the oppressive status quo that precedes it. The war will continue and in­ tensify. I 120 I I 121 I . but had helped to organize. as the Puerto Rican and Mexicano Nations are colo­ \ nialized within as well as outside the present confines of the United States. As already mentioned.. also contradicts the perception that revolutionary activism is impulsive. This is rubbish. to kill the enemy of our people. the strategic and tactical analysis of nonviolent activism is rather simplistic. we couldn't put a dent in the problem. who physically stopped the delivery of oil to a building i didn't live in. but pressed slumlords to make repairs and maintain heat and hot water. faced off City Marshals." In a situation involving a bully or a centralized power apparatus. only non­ violently. compared with the amount required for nonviolent ac­ tions. The New Afrikan Nation as well as the Native American Nations are colonialized within the present confines of the United States. The peaceful.

not sexism. In the end. Meanwhile. After all. subconsciously. left them defenseless both in terms of the theoretical means of describing their undertaking and in regards to the narrow practice of civil disobedience it led them to adopt. even as the same government that killed a paltry number of them was massacring millions of people in Indochina without consequence or hesitation. institutional. and trans people. Students leading the occupation of Tiananmen Square in "Autonomous Beijing" thought that their "revolutionary" government would not open fire on them if they re­ mained a peaceful. Nonviolence further deludes itself and its converts with the truism "Society has always been violent. the same activist references pacifists like King and Gandhi to give his beliefs an aura of respectability in the main­ stream eyeP If society is already in favor of violence across the board. aimed at destroying the far greater violence of the state. has helped en­ sure Palestinian survival against a far more powerful enemy. who were less educated and more intelligent). was vulnerable. or make par­ ticipation in a movementcontingent on being respectful of women. and non-analytical term-violence-to take on a scientific precision."!' Thus. about the amount of protection their privileges will afford them. The very activist who claimed that our society is already pro­ violence can drop the name of Leon Czolgosz (the anarchist who assassinated President McKinley) in a guest op-ed in the local corporate newspaper and know that a mainstream audi­ ence will respond to that violent personage with condemnation.PETER GPlD!'. loaded. loyal opposition. and the Pales­ tinians would be a distant memory in a long line of extinct peoples. It is nonviolence that is revolutionarv. but violence. I 122 I I 123 I . our society honors and commemo­ rates both pro-state violence and respectable. So pacifists ig­ nore real divisions such as white privilege and instead make base­ less and potentially racist!classist distinctions between cutting a lock during a pre-announced demonstration so that protestors can conduct a die-in on a military base and smashing a window under cover of a riot so that a ghetto dweller can get food and money to take care of her family. must be the critical axis of our actions. the whole movement . when the stu­ dents who had put themselves in control of the movement refused to arm themselves (unlike many in the working-class suburbs. not racism. Why would we take pledges of anti-racism before a march."!' In practice. Palestinian resistance. except for a few reservations to hold the necessary number of surplus laborers to supplement the Israeli economy. and pacifism is revolutionary enough to fundamentally challenge our society and its ingrained oppressions. why does Czolgosz warrant hatred while Gandhi warrants approval? Pacifists also harbor delusions about the decency of the state and. broad. The students at Kent State were similarly shocked. dissident pacifism. nonviolence has all the intellectual depth of a media sound bite. when we can take far less divisive pledges of nonviolence? The likelihood that most supporters of nonviolence codes have never even asked this question goes a long way toward demonstrating the limitation of pacifist thinking. all the Palestinian land would be seized. including suicide bombings. "The students' nearly complete misunderstanding of the nature of legitimacy under bureaucratic power and the illusion that the Party could be negotiated with. Pacifism requires a very vague. queer people. and Autonomous Beijing was crushed by the tanks of the People's Liberation Army. pacifists do not make the critical distinction between the structural. not homophobia. Significantly. not authori­ tarianism. Pretending that all violence is the same is very convenient for supposedly anti-violence privileged people who benefit from the violence of the state and have much to lose from the violence of revolution. and systemically permitted personal violence of the state (the state being understood in a broad sense to include the functions of the economy and patriarchy) and the individualized social violence of the "criminal" sort or collective social violence of the "revolu­ tionary" sort.RLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISDELUDED If the Palestinians hadn't made the Israeli occupation and every successive aggression so costly.

to walk to one spot if they considered the action violent. But this consideration is so far from the minds of pacifists that the nuns to whom I allude based much of their trial defense on the contention that they had not caused any real damage. inevitable psychological consequences. only symbolic damage."16 Irrational authority is based on holding power over people. I conducted a little exercise to demonstrate how vague this idea of violence actually is. or that when activ­ ists use a bomb. and to the majority of the world's population outside North America. and it cannot be considered an immoral thing because it includes natural activities such as giving birth or eating other living be­ ings to stay alive. But pacifists still delude themselves into thinking that violence is sufficiently defined that we can pretend the use of violence has certain. but blowing up the Litton Systems plant (where cruise missile components were made) would have been violent even if no one had been injured. while some also considered certain nonviolent actions to be immoral. whereas old white nuns with hammers do not." Morman asserts that "anarchism is against all forms of irrational authority and favors rational authority in its place. as I slowly read a list of various actions. to stand up and. Todd Allin Morman. as I have noted. and the second because nonviolence must be considered violent if it fails to end a system of violence. and our involvement in activism on a concept that is so blurry that no two people can really agree on what it means? Efforts to actually define violence lead to two outcomes. pouring one's blood on things. Almost never was there perfect agreement among the participants. a nonfunctioning missile is far less threat­ ening than a functioning missile. we are told. There is certainly no doubt that bombing can destroy missiles better than hammering. "[Ijt is impossible to employ violence to promote a higher anar­ chist order because violence necessarily reproduces psychological attitudes that are antithetical to the ends of anarchist revolution. The first argument ignores two facts: what is considered threaten­ ing is largely determined by preexisting prejudices against certain races and classes. while rational authority is defined as influence voluntarily granted on the basis of experience and competence. and also because all privileged people must be considered complicit in violence whether or not they consider themselves pacifists. The actions included such things as buying clothes made in a sweatshop. and missiles in the possession of imperialist states kill far more people than bombs (or hammers) in the possession of urban guerrilla groups. or violence is defined with a moral concern for outcomes. eating meat. Why? The usual response is either that a bomb threatens people. and several of the actions that they considered violent they also considered moral. and hammering missiles. and to another spot if they considered the action nonviolent. ignores the possibility of victims outside of North America. The concluding lesson of the exercise: Does it really make sense to base so much of our strategy.PEfER GaDERLOOS NONVlOl£NCEISDI'LUDED Sneaking onto a military base. to the missile facility they had infiltrated. A bomb ensures that a factory will not be able to produce missiles far better than a hammer does. in which case inaction or being ineffective in the face of a greater violence must also be considered violent. and so on. a wolf killing a deer. The second argument. writing in Social Anarchism." Can they lven truly be considered nonviolent. I asked the participants. no matter how many bombs had to blow up in the Global North to achieve that end. who included supporters of nonviolence and supporters of a diversity of tactics." I 124 I I 125 I . draws on Erich Fromm to make a tidy distinction between "rational author­ ity" and "irrational authority. after deliberately wasting an opportunity to decommission a major instrument of warfare? At a workshop I gave on the flaws of nonviolence." Either definition excludes nonviolence-the first because violence is in­ evitable and normal. is nonviolent. they cannot ensure that people will not get hurt. killing someone who is about to detonate a bomb in a crowd. Either violence is defined literally as something that causes pain or fear. our alliances.

But proponents of nonviolence boldly sound the call to retreat. anivote itself pay raises.UDED Quite typically. political bodies. but not afterward! Why are we told that we would inevitably and powerlessly become authoritarian after a violent revolution. Of course. and they clearly evolve in tandem.rETrRGElDI'RLCXJS NONVlOLENCE ISDff. Physical structures and social relation­ ships are mutually dependent. to destroy centralized power structures and hierarchical institutions without targeting I 126 I I 127 I . "The revolutionary is promoting one set of social relations and destroying old ones. even as we are encouraged to break the psy­ chological patterns of our violent society and forswear militant struggle! Morman does not answer how he can see humans de­ terministically at the end of a sentence. if it can be done before Westernization has taken place). is baffling.form. Perhaps they believe that the social relationships of oppression are independent and create the physical structures of oppression out of whole cloth.f'" This argument suggests that a nonpacifist revolution must be waged against people who are philosophically deviant or politically incorrect-people who believe the wrong things (this is how a political party views revolution). and powerless. It can be cultural. that psychological actions cannot destroy the physical manifestations of the state. declar­ ing that we should treat the symptoms while the disease is free to spread itself. and economic structures specifically constituted to perpetuate coercive domination."17 Leaving aside the fact that this point is blatantly false in relation to indigenous cultures' fighting off foreign invasion and imperialism (in which cases. our major theoretical contribution as anarchists is that the state was obso­ lete from its inception.. or it can be structural. rather than in philosophy. Morman says. But there is more than one axis for liberation struggle. Morman and the thousands of pacifists who think like him instead declare that we should focus on psychological liberation while avoiding physical struggle." But why is it possible to stop being violent now. before the revolution. Fromm's syllogism. and intimidation: the buttresses of irrational authorirv. The social relationships and physical structures cannot be fully separated (in reality. and mutually reinforcing. meaningless. but it holds and gains power nonetheless. instead. defend itself. "Violence is only capable of attacking the physical manifestations of the social relations that perpetuate the state. fear. misses the point that to an "irrational authority. example. but this is simplistic. but by power. or well-reasoned argument. killing or evicting the colonizer is indeed killing colonialism. let us accept Morman's narrow Eurocentrism and focus on societies in which oppressor and oppressed belong to the same nation or culture. for these terms are only analytical devices that make it easier to talk about different aspects of the same thing). not by teaching. He has just established that violence can destroy the physical but not the psychological manifestations of oppression. while treating humans as free agents in the beginning of the same sentence. Any reasonable person would proceed by recommending a revolutionary struggle that contains both destructive and creative activities-violence against the oppressors and their machinery accompanied by si­ multaneous caretaking and healing of one's community. How they fail to see the concomitant parallel to the argument they have just made. Morman also holds on to a totalitarian idea of revolution.. he argues that we should go into revolution peace­ fully. or at least Morman's interpretation thereof. we will only "reconstitut]e] the state in a new. It seems to me that it would be much easier to end the psycho­ logical patterns of violence and domination once we had destroyed the social institutions. to fight for the expulsion of a foreign colonizer and the bourgeois political parties that have taken on the characteristics of that colonizer (as described by Fanon). One cannot kill these social relations by a physical assault. they prefer to assert their "rational authority" and pretend they are contributing to a process that will somehow make the state obsolete. I suspect it is because academics like Morman are afraid of what would happen to them if they did not give up militant revolution (which is to give up on revolution as a whole). because if we do not." "rational author­ ity" is irrelevant.

political vision of revolution. (And the dynamics of colonialism apply today to indigenous populations. we will not need some rational. because societies will divide into smaller. it is society itself-as it stands now. organic units. "well-reasoned" ideology to hold everyone together. an artificial binding together of people with no noncoerced common interests in working together-that needs to be destroyed. privileging state vio­ lence while actively ostracizing the violence-of rebellion). and to the "internal colonies" descended from slave populations in the US. redistributes all of the land. but the vantage of people subjugated to a system so violent that they can either forcefully fight back or displace that violence socioparhicallv against one another. A militant revo­ lutionary movement can destroy the central gravity of government that holds together mass polities in a single nation-state. Speaking of colonization and resistance to it. or revolution by way of taking over centralized institutions. Lacking a military apparatus to implement capitalism or a police apparatus to protect it. and later Zeus devoured his lover. Fanon writes. Metis. and to occupied areas from Kurdistan to Iraq. Morman's reasoning is also based on Western cultural as­ sumptions that fail to appreciate any reason for violence not in the service of domination.OOS NONVIOLENCE ISDFLUDID any actual people. "It is a commonplace that great social upheavals lessen the frequency of delinquency and mental disorders. to outright colonies from Hawaii to Samoa. These assumptions have much to do with the inherent totalitarianism of Western culture (which is also evident in the statist inclinations of pacifism. they-as people-are quite harmless. In other words. These patterns are not universal to all cultures. The use of violence is either calculated. burns all of the money-people who are philosophically capi­ talist need not be purged or intimidated with irrational authority. After that point. in which case the motivation is nearly always jealousy born out of the desire to possess another being."19 I 128 I I 129 I . Mangala the creator killed Farrow as a sacrifice in order to save what was left of ere- ation. coordi­ nated violence to establish and enforce a new set of social relations that must be preserved through violence. to win power and coercive control. Revolutionaries will not need to use violence to convince everyone to behave in a certain way because there will be no need for conformity across an entire country.-We have already seen Frantz Fanon describe violence as a "cleansing force" when used by people ground down and dehumanized by colonization to liberate themselves. and will either learn to do something creative with their lives or starve to death without realizing that they can no longer pay someone to slave for them. The idea that the use of "violence" automatically constitutes an irrational authority does not make sense from the perspective of cultural values that do not necessarily portray violence as a tool in the ser­ vice of domination.) Fanon aided the FLN (National Liberation Front) in Algeria and worked in a psychiatric hospital. On the contrary. In fact. these dynamics still apply to hundreds of millions of people and are not at all obsolete. does constitute the creation or preservation of a coercive authority. other than those who choose to fight on the side of power. while similar dynamics apply to the popula­ tions of the neocolonies of Africa. in which a revolutionary party seizes power and enforces its vision of free­ dom on everyone else in the society through some centralized apparatus. In short. This dynamic is a pattern throughout Western mythologies. According to the Mande. Collective. in Greek mythology. Cronus tried to kill his son. After a revolution that destroys all of the structures of capitalism-seizes all of the factories. to maintain their power. and Latin America. specializing in the psychologyof the colonized and the psychological effects of their liberation struggles. But these are not the only two options for social change. They are also not universal to all situations.. Morman's typical pacifist-anarchist construction relies on a Eurocentric.PETI:R GffDER!. Asia. he is somewhat better positioned than Erich Fromm to evaluate the psychology of violence in pursuit of liberation from the perspective of the major­ ity of the world's population-not the vantage of an educated politi­ cal party seeking to remake the world in its image. or impassioned.

war. After Red Cloud's War in 1866. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that pacifism was a universally applicable panacea. In 1981.l' The real ques­ tion is who is alienated by violence. dozens of articles came out in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the national press. and by what kind of violence? One anarchist writes: [E)ven if they were. who got locked up after the cop who tried to kill him ended up dead. self-righteous candlelight vigils are alienating to the majority of people who don't participate. as though never before has a transformation occurred in which end conditions were fun­ damentally different from the means that brought them about. in response to intense repression and rellgious persecution. This is glaringly false. more intimate. Even bla­ tantly false wars win the support of at least half the population. "Joe-Joe" won the respect of other prisoners after he and another prisoner assassinated the warden and deputy warden and wounded the guard commander at Philadelphia's Holrnesburg Prison in 1973.V" Reckless violence that subjects people to unnecessary risks without even striving to be effective or successful will most likely alienate people-especially those who already have to survive under the violence of oppression-but fighting for survival and freedom often wins sympathy. prisons. Further. we are supposed to make our decisions based on conditions that are not even present. Violent video games and violent movies are the most popular. What they really oppose is violence directed at dislodging them and their privileges. a huge amount of media attention was paid to the horrible conditions of Pennsylvania's prisons. than a superficial smiley face to be given out to six billion strangers simultaneouslv. police brutality. can we really believe that a pacifist movement could overcome the government on a matter where compromise was unacceptable to ruling interests? Closing out the list of common delusions is the all-too-frequent claim that violence alienates people. acting as though the revolution has already occurred and we live in that better world. when a mass-escape attempt he helped organize at Graterford Prison was foiled and turned into a hostage situation."22 Given the increased consolidation of the media (the presumed ally and moralizing tool of the nonviolent activist 2J ) and the increased repressive powers of the government.UDID To add to what is becoming a long list.they support violence all the time. they enjoyed nearly a decade of relative peace and 20 autonomy until Custer invaded the Black Hills to find gold. often with the commentary that the US military is too humane and restrained to its enemies. But instead of fitting the means (our tactics) to the situation we face. nonviolence is deluded in repeating that means determine ends. On the contrary." Pacifism is also alienating to the millions of lower-class Americans who silently cheer every time a cop or (especially) federal agent gets killed.PEm Gfll)ERLOOS NONVIOLENCE ISDl'l.. Voting is alienating for the millions of people who know better than to participate and to some of the many people who participate for lack of better options.. the whole notion that the middle and upper classesare alienated by vio­ lence is completely false. During the five-day standoff. Showing a supposed "love" for "thy enemy" is alienating to people who know that love is something deeper. shedding light on the prisoners' grievances and underscoring the fact that these people who had nothing to lose would continue to fight against the repression and I 130 I I 131 I . for example. whether it is strikebreaking. who hurry by and smirk to themselves." This wholesale renun­ ciation of strategy forgets that neither of the lauded figureheads of nonviolence. sanctions or capital punishment. acknowl­ edged that "[tlhose who make peaceful revolution impossible only make violent revolution inevitable. who cares if the middle and upper classes are alienated by violence? They already had their violent revolution and we're living in it right now. Gandhi and King. the Lakota did not descend into an orgy of violence because they had committed some moral!psychological transgression by killing white soldiers. On the other hand. I have recently been fortunate enough to come into correspondence with Black Liberation Army prisoner Joseph Bowen.

he turned right around and drove home. Nonviolent activism targeting the School of the Americas (SOA) provides a good example. not only has nonviolence never worked." civil disobedience was an end in itself. and for alleviating privilege-induced guilt and accessing the moral righteousness of those who have put their money where their mouth is. While activ­ ists might assume these people are apathetic to the current social movements because they have never participated. indeed the whole capitalist state structure.?? For all its fanfare. eating meat. paying rent. Bowen had so upset the scales of political power that politicians were on the defensive and had to call for investiga­ tions of conditions at Graterford Prison. When he arrived and saw a peaceful crowd herded by the police into a protest cage. In this and many other examples. it has never existed. nonviolence is decrepit. Nonviolent theory rests on a large number of manipulations. eating tofu. Since the first edition of this book came out. they were "bearing witness" and "standing in soli­ darity with the oppressed" in Latin America. I conceived of the civil disobedience and prison sentence as a means of demonstrating the farcical and authoritarian nature of the democratic process. Ward Churchill suggests that white pacifists wish to protect themselves from repression by consigning their activism to posturing and formulating the social organiza­ tion of a post-revolutionary world while people of color across the world incur all the fatalities fighting for that world. In a revolutionary sense. It seems to me that the most common motive is for pacifists to avail themselves of moral high ground and alleviate the substantial guilt they incur by recogniz­ ing the many systems of oppression they are tied up in but fail to deal with in a meaningful way." suggests an ulte­ rior motive to nonviolent activism." This is a far cry from the solidarity role white pacifists imagine themselves to be playing. paying taxes. I saw that to the paci­ fist majority within the anti-SOA "movement. as well as their ap­ peasement with the most hollow of "victories. work toward the same ends? But after the conclusion of my prison sentence. not just the SOA. In fact. used for leverage in lobbying Congress and recruiting new participants. people humanize themselves precisely when they take up arms to fight against oppression. and fostering the escalation toward a truly revolutionary movement targeting all aspects of capitalism and imperialism. the government agreed to transfer a dozen of the rebels to another prison. Nonviolent practice is ineffective and self-serving. The frequent role of nonviolent activists in controlling or sabotaging revolutionary movements. being nice to a cop-all of these are violent activities. by incurring a relatively easy prison sentence of six months or less. One working-class man told me how upon the US invasion of Iraq he jumped in his car and drove two hours to DC to take part in a protest. falsifications.'? The global system and everyone in it are soaked in ) . During my involvement with anti-SOA activism. and their failure to protect revolutionary activists from state repression. I was told time and again that they wanted to get involved but didn't know how because the only organizing efforts they saw revolved around peaceful protests. Organizing against the SOA includes one of the largest sustained campaigns of civil disobe­ dience in recent history. so to speak." and in the end. including the Zapatistas in 1994 and the Appalachian miners in 1921. I have been approached by many people who were not activists who told me how much they appreciated the sentiments herein. which didn't feel inclusive to them and obvi­ ously wouldn't accomplish anything.PETER GEillERlOOS NONVIOl£NCEISDELUDED the bad conditions. I 132 I I 133 I . Driving a car. in the aftermath of the siege. knowing no one else involved. rather than storm in shooting-their preferred tactic. It enabled them to claim that. and de­ lusions. and it has drawn the participation and support of a number of leading pacifists. How ridiculous would it be to campaign for the closure of a single military school when numerous other institutions. Some corporate-media articles were even sym­ pathetic toward joe-joe.

My goal has been to emphasize criticisms too of­ ten silenced. coerced. decentralized manner as well-rather than attempting to enforce a party line or the single correct revolutionary program. Would-be revolutionaries need REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVISM to realize that pacifism is so vapid and 7 counterproductive that an alternative is imperative. For those suffer­ ing under the violence of colonialism. supporting some of the existing forceful attempts to destroy the system of violence. it is enforced. Only then can we weigh the different paths of struggle fairly-and.Y There is nothing in this world currently deserv­ ing of the name peace. even vitriolic. and I have not diluted these arguments. particu­ larly when their morals do not prevent them from working in solidarity with nonpacifist revolutionaries. and on whose side we will stand. Thus col1ective autodestruction in a very con­ crete form is one of the ways in which the native's muscular tension is set free.' The point is that pacifism as ideology. which opens up the question of armed resistance to colonialism." Peace is not an option until after the centrally organized vio­ lence that is the state is destroyed. Our options have been violently constrained to the following. and to put off till later the choice. tacitly supporting that vio­ lence by failing to challenge it. Many pacifists are well-meaning would-be revolution­ aries who have simply been unable to move past their cultural conditioning. and even pose a challenge to the functioning of the status quo. in a more pluralistic. involuntary. the Godlike state as the highest crime and treason. there wouldn't be much need for revolution. make the state obsolete. because the state can crush alternatives that cannot defend themselves. or pursuing new and original ways to fight and destroy that system. nonviolence is not always an option-people must either fight back violently against their oppressor or dis­ place that violence into anti-social violence against one another. Exclusive reliance on building alternatives-to sustain us. incerrigibly serves state interests and is hopelessly wrapped up psychologically with the control schema of the patriarchy and white supremacy. with pretensions beyond a personal prac­ tice. I hope. nevertheless inevitable. actively supporting the violence of the system. arguments against nonviolent activism. A handful of pacifists have shown such a sustained commitment to revolution and incurred such risks and sacrifices that they are above the criticisms typically deserved by pacifists. I 134 I I us I . and neutrality is not possible. Privileged ac­ tivists need to understand what the rest of the world's people have known all too long: we are in the midst of a war. and heal us from this violence to prevent "autodestruction"-is also not an op­ tion. . My argument is not that all pacifists are apologists and sellouts without redeeming merit or a place in a revolutionary movement. Frantz Fanon writes: Here on the level of communal organizations we clearly dis­ cern the well-known behavior patterns of avoidance. it is a question of whose violence frightens us most. Rather. If we were allowed to live the change we wish to see in the world. military occupation. I I have made a number of forceful. or racial oppression.PEm GELDERLOOS violence. in order to defenestrate the stranglehold pacifism has over the movement's discourse-a stranglehold exerting such a monopoly over putative morality and strategic/tactical analysis in many circles as to preclude even the THE ALTERNATIVE: acknowledgment of a feasible alterna­ POSSIBILITIES FOR tive. which programs them instinctively to react to as­ saults on. It is as if plunging into a fraternal blood-bath allowed them to ignore the obstacle.

temporary. discipline. It is vague. as much autonomy and decision-making power as possible must remain at the grassroots. However. who consistently refused power and. red-painted capitalist state with them at the head. Additionally.RLOOS mE ALTERNATlVI: Now that I have demonstrated the need to replace a nonviolent revolutionary practice. and rest their case. Organizations should not be empires. liber­ ated huge areas from the Germans. is arguably less violent than Batista's Cuba. Therefore.' We could also point out the contemporaneous anarchist revolutionaries in south­ ern Ukraine. to truly succeed. and die out when they are I 136 I I 137 I . power must be decentralized-this means no political parties or bureaucratic institutions. frequently replaced. pacifists typically gen­ eralize some broad faults of a few exemplified historical revolutions. the violent Russian Revolution led to another violent and authoritarian government. for instance. "See. Power should be located as much as possible in the grassroots-with individuals and in groups working within a community. most of the violence in soci­ ety that is unarguably wrong stems from coercive hierarchies. concentrating in "national committees" and other centralized levels of organization {which bring togeth­ er like-minded people steeped in abstraction and removed from contact with most other folk's everyday realities}. The authoritarianism of the USSR or People's Republic of China was not a mystical carryover from the violence they used. I want to elaborate on what we might replace it with. This anti-authoritarianism must be reflected in both the organization and the ethos of a liberation movement. the concept of hierarchy has most of the analytical and moral precision that the concept of violence lacks. and she organization is likely to develop interests of its own. Oth­ erwise. pooling of resources. a liberation struggle must use any means nec­ essary that are consistent with building a world free of coercive hierarchies. those who fill the higher levels of organization are likely to develop a bureaucratic mindset. it might do well to dirty our hands in the historical details and analyze degrees ofviolence. and ultimately untrue to say that violence always produces certain psychological patterns and social relationships. there are already enough apologists for Castro as to disincline me from expending my energies in such a manner. The common element of all of these authoritarian revolutions is their hierarchical form of organization. perhaps by showing that in terms of structural depravity and state repression. . meaning­ less. whom they encouraged to self-organize. is inseparable from psychological patterns and social relationships of domination. In other words. sweeping analysis. Organi­ zationally. Therefore. and always dependent on ratification by the local groups. and the Reds-but did not impose their will on those they liberated. and in their own terms they were quite successful. as numerous nonpacifist forms of revolutionary struggle contain their own terminal flaws. avoid any detailed analysis. But rather than say. Hierarchy. ideology tends to flow upward. which will soon diverge from the interests of the movement. for years." Further leaving aside pacifism's mystifying. the product of a violent revolu­ tion. When local groups do need to federate or otherwise coordinate over a wider geographic area-and the difficulty of this struggle will require coordination. recallable. In fact. but a direct function of the hierarchies to which they were always wed. proliferate. the Whites. and common strategy-whatever organization arises should ensure that local groups do not lose their autonomy and that whatever higher levels of organization are created {such as the regional or national committees of a federation} are weak.PElIR GELDF.'? it would help to point out that all the Leninists wanted was an authoritarian. Because grassroots and community groups are confined by real-life conditions and have constant contact with people outside the movement. they should be tem­ porary tools that overlap. Few things have more potential for authoritarianism than a powerful ideol­ ogy. however. therefore violence is infec­ tious. Castro's Cuba. no organization should monopolize the move­ ment. the anti-Semitic nationalists. In debate.

or ethos. and that smart.PETER Gffl)ERLOOS TIlEALTERNATIVE no longer needed.' The pacifist vision of struggle. but opposes crushing those who have been defeated. In terms of struggle. this means we must abandon the idea that there is only one right way. We need to coordinate and unify as much as possible to increase our collective strength. teaching other people rather than holding on to their expertise as a form of power. of the liberation movement is also vital. that this revolution will take a tremen­ dous amount of expertise. Anti-authoritarianism requires that we abandon this mindset. the goal is to destroy centralized power structures so each community has the autonomy to organize itself in the way that all its members collectively decide will best enable them to meet their needs. as an institutionalized or coercive role. It is the responsibility of people who find themselves in positions ofleadership to lend their talents to the movement while spreading their leadership around. After all. but it helps to see cultivat­ ing an anti-authoritarian practice as a constant battle between two requirements (efficiency and freedom) that are conflict­ ing but not mutually exclusive. The traditional idea of leadership. With these structures and culture. But it is also true that people are not equal in terms of abilities. A movement will be healthier and harder to co-opt if there is a diversity of groups filling different niches and pursuing similar purposes. For starters. nonegotistical people will voluntarily place someone with more expertise than others in a position of noncoercive and temporary leadership. The culture. different people have dif­ ferent strengths and experiences and face different aspects of op­ pression: it only makes sense that there should be different paths of struggle on which we fight simultaneously toward liberation. Additionally. After all. There will always be a tension between being effective and being liberating. an anti-authoritarian ethos favors fighting uncom­ promisingly against oppression. and think of people who deviate from us as allies. There is also the question of leadership in an anti-authoritarian struggle. This does not mean that everyone should work alone or at cross-purposes." Everyone has an innate potential for freedom and self-organization. as competition-we might even try to repress these other tenden­ cies within the movement. is hierarchical and inhibitive of people's growth. we are not trying to impose one new. The authoritarian monotheism inherent in Western civilization would lead us to view these other paths as unintelligent detours. I 138 I I 139 I . as holding power over people. a liberation movement has a better chance of succeeding without creating a new authoritarian system. it favors reconciliation over punishment. a culture of liberation must favor pluralism over monopoly.' and these groups will be less prone to infighting if people within the movement tend to belong to multiple groups rather than giving their loyalty to a single group. but we should also reconsider how much uniformity is actually possible. Noncoercive structures are easily subverted if the culture and desires of the people operating those structures draw them toward other ends. therefore. recognize the inevitability of differences. but to use our perspectives and collective experiences to guard against the co-optation efforts of the institutional Left and to provide models for autonomous social relationships and self-organization in cultures where none currently exist. and indeed this contention is probably wrong. if we identify as anarchists. our job is not to convert everyone else to anarchism. On the contrary. based on a polar dichotomy between violence and nonviolence. and in the complexity of struggle there is plenty of grey space. that we must get everyone to sign on to the same platform or join the same organi­ zation. while also joining or leaving free associations of mutual aid with communities around them. The approach of an anti-authoritarian ethos toward leadership is that power needs to be constantly redistributed outwards. the struggle will benefit from a plurality of strategies attacking the state from different angles. utopian society on everybody after the revolution. is unrealistic and self-defeating. It is impossible to get everyone to agree that one strategy for struggle is the best.

Westernized people also need to develop collective social relationships. as the military strikes again and again. some indigenous nations in South America and Papua New Guinea. being an anarchist provides no exception to being imbued with individualistic. to a lesser extent. long as we are dependent on the state.PEm GELDERLOOS mE Ain:RNATIVE More concretely. and. at I 140 I I 141 I . Rather. The opinions of the mainstream are conditioned by the state. including the Iraqis. we must be aware of certain types of repression we will probably have to face. In all likelihood. the Palestinians. they must decide whether to escalate tactics to improve their capability for self-defense. At every stage in the struggle we must cultivate a militant spirit. the Ijaw in Nigeria. Italy. Specific groups need to decide that for themselves based on the conditions they face-not based on the prescriptions of some ide­ ology. and other structures that can support communities in resistance. Fe­ tishizing violence neither improves a movement's effectiveness nor preserves its anti-authoritarian qualities. If we wait to bring in militancy until the state has increased repression to the level that it is blatantly obvious that they have declared war on us. we must work to escalate militancy. It does not help to isolate violence. certain tactics we will probably have to use. to educate through exemplary actions. or those killed by the state. Radicals from a privileged background have the most work to do in this regard because these communities have the most conservative reactions to militant tactics. almost all of our potential allies will choose voting. free clinics.and privilege-based forms of social interactions. Readers may notice that some of the major initial requirements of a liberation movement do not include "violent" actions. Increasing the acceptance of militant tactics is not easy work. Rather. 7 That said. our free schools should teach self-defense and the history of struggle. we will never overthrow it. And though more cultural conditioning must be overcome before people can accept and practice more dangerous. Privileged radicals seem to be more likely to ask. and to increase the level of militancy acceptable (to at least segments of the population we have identified as potential supporters). "What would society think?" as an excuse for their passivity. Cultivating militancy should go hand in hand with preparation and outreach. The use of violence is not a stage in the struggle that we must work toward and pass through in order to win. I hope that by now we can abandon the dichotomy between violence and nonviolence altogether. indigenous activists. If the only choice we can give is between bomb throwing and voting. and elsewhere. anarchists. an anti-authoritarian liberation movement would need to emphasize building an autonomous cul­ ture that can resist the mind control of the corporate media and a foundation of social centers. a good many peoples are engaged in armed struggle to liberate them­ selves right now. we cannot let our actions be determined by what is acceptable in the mainstream. It is dangerous to become totally cut off from a mainstream reality by rushing into tactics that no one else can understand. community agriculture. though. As I write this sentence. Our social centers should hon­ or militant activists in prison. Several of them have already been killed. People who act prematurely and cut themselves off from popular support will be easy for the government to pick off. it is hard to generalize how a liberation movement using a diversity of tactics should conduct its struggle. In fact. it will be too late. free schools. such tactics cannot be placed at the top of some hierarchy. deadly tactics. we must gradually bring people to accept more militant forms of struggle. We need to employ working models of restorative or transformative justice so that we truly don't need police or prisons. punishment. Because of the nature of the state. and unionists armed with just bricks and clubs are holding the barricades in Oaxaca against an impending military assault. much less support. and. For those growing up in the Global North. AI:. any struggle for liberation will probably eventually become an armed struggle. anti-authoritarian groups in Greece. pandering to the mainstream is pan­ dering to the state.

filmmaker John Sayles writes. There are many effective forms of struggle. I hope that during this process we can build a culture of respect for our enemies (a number of non-Western cultures have shown it is indeed possible to respect a person or animal you must kill). and. the state. capitalism. We must realistically accept that revolution is a social war. but because we recognize that the status quo is a low-intensity war and challenging the state results in an intensifi­ cation of that warfare. fighting empowers people and teaches us that we can fight. or simply defend against.:" With enough bold. a good many governments might easily collapse if they were already weakened by spreading waves of global revolt. and some of these methods can lead to the worlds we dream of. the patriarchy. We can succeed at feasible revolutionary activism by striving toward undiluted. above all. In the meantime. and downright immoral and scornful to kill someone weaker (for instance. It would be wonderful if most people did not have to go through a process of armed struggle to liberate themselves. but we must not forget short- I 142 I I 143 I . criticize. People who continue to dehumanize themselves as agents oflaw and order must be defeated by whatever means necessary until they can no longer prevent people's autonomous realization of their needs. not because we like war. and white supremacy. "the psychological victory of those violent days may have been more important. Referring to the defeat at the Battle of Blair Mountain during the 1921 Mine War in West Virginia. which will help to prevent purges or a new authority when the present state has been defeated. Losing fights can be better than not fighting at all. We must also accept that revolution neces­ sitates interpersonal conflict because certain classes of people are employed to defend the centralizing institutions we must destroy. and. And we must recognize that violent struggle against an extremely powerful enemy in which long-term victory may seem impossible can lead to small short-term victories. and revolution necessitates struggle. it could be seen as acceptable to kill a more powerful enemy (for instance.DffiLOOS nm ALTERNATTVE term victories. someone already defeated). we must observe. empowering resistance. given the extent to which economies and governments are integrated globally these days. I won't say that armed struggle is an ideological necessity. unfavorable to kill someone who is equally powerful (such that it would only be seen as justified by one's peers in pitched circumstances and self-defense). people need to survive and be nourished. assess. communicate. Revolution is imperative. learn by doing. When a colonized people learn they can fight back together. life can never again be so comfortable for their exploiters.PETER Gl'l. someone who must be targeted clandestinely for fear of state reprisal). but for many people in many places it does become a necessity to overthrow. For example. But some people will have to experience armed struggle. the risk of graver consequences. long-term goals. we can move beyond small victories to achieve a lasting victory against the state. and it would be unforgivable if our strategy for revolution banked on the certainty that other people will die in bloody conflicts while we remain safe. some have to even now. To find one of the right paths.

This particular list comes from an article written by Spruce Houser (Spruce Houser. 6. George Orwell. March 21. 7. at the least. as soon as a pacifist panelist at the anarchist conference mentioned in the introduction was forced to admit that the civil rights I 144 I I 145 I . which many believe he easily could have stopped. Some people have qualms with the term activist. "What if Bhagat Singh Had Lived?" The Tribune of India. were. I have seen these same putative victories declared by other pacifists time and again. Martin's Press. 1989). 3. or associate it with reformist types of activism. in the way progressive media are somewhat available to the mainstream. Hello NYC. php?action=viewarticle&section=archive&story-id=17497). say. India's neocolonial status is widely documented as part of the expanding body of anti. once direct colonialism has successfully effected the necessary political and economic reorganization within the colonies." in Ho Chi Minh on Revolution. is building toward the point when such a conflict is practical. Reeta Sharma. Though the conservatism inherent in any political establishment prevented many Euro/American states from seeing this for some time. are not at all pacifist.tribuneindia. However. stemming from Gandhi's opposition to Bose because the latter did not support nonviolence. 2004. and the influence of their readership. who was killed in a shootout with the British. 2002) and Vandana Shiva." 8. Chandrasekhar Azad.com/index. right on the money when they advocated independence for the colonies. I define a revolutionary activist as someone who. Such correlations are factually nonexistent. but Gandhi strategically chose not to speak out against the state execution. http://athensnews. such as Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed. For more on Indian liberation struggles. given for the assassination of a British official. Media widely available beyond anarchist circles. Professor Gopal K. 5. 9. See Ho Chi Minh. This book gives one a feel for the way peace activists celebrate these protests. This argument ignores the fact that resistance against slavery and racial oppression was militant well before the late 1960s. is a focal point of a recent movie. "Domestic Anarchist Movement Increasingly Espouses Violence. unfairly characterized as disloyal or unpatriotic. anarchists have a major impact. criticisms of pacifism are not even entertained. To avoid being too particular about words and terminology.htm#6. are almost exclusively pacifist. and more efficient at maintaining power. http://www. I will ask readers simply to receive this term in the best possible way. The Last Revolutionary. he changed directions without blinking an eye and blamed the struggle's failure on militant liberation movements. See Arundhati Roy. Modern India: 1885-1947 (New York: St. 2/15: The Day the World Said No to War (Oakland. in which anarchists are key organizers. Bose resigned after a conflict with other Indian political leaders. August 12. their influence. Thus was a rival revolutionary removed from the political landscape. Some periodicals limited to the strictly anarchist milieu. saying that as the movement became violent. "The Failure of French Colonization. e-mail to author.com/2001/20010321/ edit. even when many of the volunteers that keep those media alive are anti-authoritarians who support a diversity of tactics. At mass mobilizations of the anti-war and anti-globalization movements. Bernard Fall (New York:Signet Books. read Sumit Sarkar. Liberals within the imperialist states. it started to lose ground. correspond an increasing militancy with a decreasing base. struggle did not end victoriously. 2. Ho Chi Minh. Gopal also writes. can be clearly seen as marginal in areas where. at best. 4. 1967). e 2." Athens News. For example. CA: AK Press. a peace activist and self-proclaimed anarchist. Power Politics (Cambridge: South End Press. by Indian director Priyadarshan. 2001. "1 have friends in India who still haven't forgiven Gandhi for this. It is important to note that people across India beseeched Gandhi to ask for the commutation of Bhagat Singh's death sentence. September 2004. 2003). in fact. and others have written about the fiscal inefficiencyof colonialism.ENDNOTES INTRODUCTION 1. otherwise. neocolonial rule is much more efficient at enriching the colonizer than direct colonial administration. CHAPTERONE-NONVIOLENCE IS INEFFECTIVE 1. ed. 2000). Because it may be presumptuous to refer to someone who is not engaged in open conflict with the state as a revolutionary.and alter-globalist literature. and also disavows any specific analysis that might. Stolen Harvest (Cambridge: South End Press. some participants can successfully argue END NOT E S that watered-down forms of direct action really do qualify as nonviolent.

2004." ColarLines. 1985). He believed that he too wanted peace. 15.W. Olive-Drab Rebels: Subversion of the US Armed Forces in the Vietnam War. Mick Dumke. See Robert Williams. This article was written before Barack Obama's election so I have updated the figure." E. "President Johnson wanted those guys off the street." 22. Martin Luther King Jr." in Police Brutality:An Anthology." http://www. False Internationalism (Chicago: A Seeds Beneath the Snow Publication." The Guardian (UK) October 19. 96-104. and his organizers often capitalized on riots carried out by militant black activists to put the pacifist black leaders in a more favorable light. rejecting the idea that the Vietnamese resistance. Jill Nelson (New York: W. for an example. played up the threat of black revolutionaryviolence as the likely outcome if the state did not meet his reformist demands. 2001). 65. 124-125.org/issues/302/nationalnews." Martin Luther King [r. directed by Errol Morris. ed.html. and the Black Panther Party (New York: Routledge. "US wealth gap grows for ethnic minorities. 1998). Kenneth Clark. 11. Boardof Education Supreme Court decision. 1962). Imagination. 302 (2004) http://www. False Nationalism. 2003). Tani and Sera. 21. Anti-government violence had mass approval and participation. False Nationalism. 31. the psychologist whose testimony was instrumental in winning the 1954 Brown v. with self­ defense leading to armed organizations. 12. chapter 6.." 19. commander of an Army recruiting district. but with the typical arrogance of a bureaucrat assumed the public didn't know enough to make policy suggestions. temporarily confused his moral/tactical position with a racial one by pointing out that it was US troops assassinating their officers that also led to the end of the war. blackpanther. Also see Mumia Abu-Jamal. Negroes with Guns (Chicago: Third World Press. millions of Negroes will seek solace and security in Black nationalist ideologies. "Point Number 7: We Want an Immediate End to Police Brutality and the Murder of Black People. Matthew Rinaldi. and Charles Hamilton and Kwame Ture. 16. no. 2004). As King himself said. Pacifism as Pathology (Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring. A pacifist panelist at the North American Anarchist Conference. "They [the civil rights movement and the black liberation/anti­ colonial movement] rapidly evolved toward armed struggle.PETER GELDERLOOS ENDNOTES 10. "Historical Context of the Founding of the Party. One rich account comes from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in the documentary Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. Ward Churchill. Norton and Company. 117-118. and 14 times greater than that of the average black family. Abu-Jamal. Also. defeated the US. "[Ijf an oppressed people's pent-up emotions are not nonviolently released. Tani and Sera. Tani and Sera. Kathleen Cleaver and George Katsiaficas. Tani and Sera. False Nationalism. Dr. analyzing US Census data. I 146 I I 147 I . they will be violently released. Why I Joined the Black Panther Party. ed. So let the Negro march. 107. quoted in Tani and Sera. 127. 94. Fall 2004. Also see Suzzane Goldberg. agrnews. incidentally. dernonization of strong black women was eventually insinuated into the Black Power movement itself). (London: Antagonism Press. It is educational to see how the elite themselves perceived the anti-war movement.. 23. and that the disparity is growing. 13. 14.. 25. Flores Alexander Forbes. 24. McNamara clearly expressed being troubled by the protests often held outside his workplace. said. False Nationalism. Liberation. 20. 237. Ibid. rev. False Nationalism. The Pew Hispanic Center. McNamara. 2000).. stated that segregation was worse than it had been 40 years prior. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (New York: Random House. 17. "Running on Race.For if his frustrations and despair are allowed to continue piling up. hypothesized that the unemployed men targeted for military service were "maladapted" because of "disorganized and matrifocal family life. False Nationalism.org/legacvnew. Tani and Kae Sera. 17-19. "Project 100. "The sound of the explosion in Birmingham reached all the way to Washington. Tani and Sera. recently found that the average white family has a net worth 11 times greater than that of the average Latino family. In 1994.43. We Want Freedom (Cambridge: South End Press. Pacifism as Pathology.. who. 2003. 1967). 17. reprinted in Asheville Global Report.htm. 11-13.000" was begun in 1966 at the suggestion of White House adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan. 26. See especially Ward Churchill. and as a leading government expert he was thus working in the interests of the anti-war protestors. 32." (Interestingly." while Vietnam represented "a world away from women. and not the peace movement. 18. We Want Freedom. The group Direct Action in Canada and the Swiss guerrilla Marco Camenisch are two examples. Colonel William Cole. False Nationalism.

Excluding Al Sharpton. can be found in Churchill. 2003. had been killed by white people whom police refused to arrest (this was a relatively common occurrence). Originally published by Agence France­ Presse. [Detailed in his autobiography: Nelson Mandela. The example of the Danes during the Holocaust was used by pacifist anarchist Colman McCarthy at his workshop "Pacifism and Anarchism" at the National Conference on Organized Resistance. 33. Thirteen hundred angry Indians occupied the town of Gordon for three days. 1990). 39-40. Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe Under Nazi Occupation (New York: Macmillan. The same person. His relatives./www. This particular e-mail was the culmination of a rather sordid conversation on the listserv of a white pacifist group. fed up with the apathy of the government. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (Boston: Little. DC). 36. 1995»).. 2. Bruce Perry (New York: Pathfinder.php?id=1070 (accessed October 5. Bauer. on a listserv of former "prisoners of conscience" with School of the Americas Watch (SOAW). Ibid. as they did. 45. in using the example of the Holocaust to demonstrate the pathology of pacifism in the face of oppression. 1989)." Gilroy asserted. 21. The Destruction of the European Jews. Nebraska in 1972. CH. One person suggestedcalling it a "walk" instead of a "march. 30. they would lose in the polls. 32. 31. one veteran pacifist suggested that if the military was placing more resttictions on protesting outside an Army base that had been targeted by demonstrations. 122... a cop was suspended. also objected to calling a protest a "march" instead of a walk (although he claimed to uphold the legacy of King and Gandhi). 38. 50. we'll be back to take Gordon off the map. 39 (regarding Kovno). Ibid. 42. and Mental Prison. Raymond Yellow Thunder. in Gordon. "Of course we are claiming the mantle of Dr.~'. 47-48. 1961) and Isaiah Trunk." in Malcolm X: The Last Speeches. They Chose Life:Jewish Resistance in the Holocaust (New York: The American [ewish Committee. threatening: "We've come here to Gordon today to secure justice for American Indians and to put Gordon on the map . 1973) 32. 41. March 11. Malcolm. January 23. Jack Gilroy. One example of the mere threat of popular violence creating change comes from the American Indian Movement (AIM). "Twenty Million Black People in a Political. Pacifism as Pathology. ed. Yehuda Bauer.] Promptly. In one conversation I had with a pacifist Mandela was held up as an exemplary person of color and abandoned just as quickly when I mentioned Mandela's embrace of armed struggle. which informed my own." News.PETER GELDERLOOS ENDNOTES 27. 1960).. American University (Washington. 39. An Oglala man. the two murderers were arrested. e-mail. Auschwitz (New York: Fawcett Books.unitedforpeace. 1972). February 16. 2006. 44. United for Peace and Justice. 35... Not only were commentators nearly unanimous in attributing the shift of power directly to the bombings. 53-54.and if justice is not immediately forthcoming. Brown. "Millions Give Dramatic Rebuff to US War Plans. February 4. 28.. 3. 2003." Deutsche Presse-Agentur." [Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall. instead blaming ETA Basque separatists. who said that by holding such a march (it wassupposed to start in Birmingham or another cityof equal I 148 I I 149 I . a group that has conducted one of the longest-running campaigns of nonviolent civil disobedience against US foreign policy. during which participants discussed a suggested civilrights-style march through the heart of the black South. 2006. 40..23-54. 29. Ibid.org/article. representative of a large trend within US pacifism.. 43. the Spanish government itself acknowledged the impact of the bombings by ttying to cover up Al-Qaida involvement. who was treated (as always) as a pariah." because "march" constitutes "violent language. and local authorities made some effort to end discrimination against Indians. we were doing something wrong. 33. Ward Churchill. Economic. 52-53. Ibid. 2006). 34. ~ . and should take a step back. called in AIM. (Chicago: Quadrangle. 31-37. 36. Churchill's own contributions to the topic. Sinikka Tarvainen. Ibid. He also recommends Bruno Bettleheirri's Foreword to Miklos Nyiszli. Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (Cambridge: South End Press. See. "Spain's Aznar Risks All for a War in Iraq.AP'ffR lWQ-NONVIOLENCE ISRACIST 1. King!"This latter was in response to a criticism made by a black activist. Ibid. for example. They Chose Life.. cites Raul Hilberg. Ibid. For example. http'. Ibid.. Members of the government knew that if the bombings were connected in the public mind to Spanish participation in the Iraq occupation. 41 (regarding France). X. 37.

rhenation. However. 17. New York: Orbis Books. North American Anarchist Conference.186. We Want Freedom. 41. even calling the black activist "boy" and claiming that the pacifist movement was so white because people of color "have not listened. of the following quote: "What these white people do not realize is that Negroes who riot have given up on America.playboy. Harper & Row.html.Tani and Sera. We Want Freedom. It was only upon reading in black activists' writings of the importance of Malcolm X that I did the necessary research. How Long! How Long!African-American Women in the Struggle far Civil Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10. though it has been expressed by many different people. for instance. http://www. Martin Luther King [r. 134-137. 21. 14.. "Violence/Nonviolence" (panel discussion. other than that he was an "extremist" black Muslim. 18. 15. 7. 19. Personal e-mail to author. In subsequent years. http://www." He finished off the same e-mail by insisting that the fight against injustice "has no color bar. 2004). 6. Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall. Pacifism as Pathology. Ibid. 1965). OH. 9." Vernal Project. Malcolm X is as important. Malcolm X Speaks (New York: Grove Press. Staughton Lvnd and Alice Lynd.. Consider the popularity. ed. FaLse Nationalism. 2004. Allegations of government involvement in Malcolm X's assassination are convincingly presented by George Breitman. Pacifism has been one stumbling block that has allowed white radicals to control or sabotage liberation movements. August 13. comes to me most directly from Roger White. 1know that personally. as early as elementary school. if not mote important. 1986). quoted in Abu-Jamal. this merely confirms the Negroes' conviction that America is a hopelessly decadent society. 13. Tani and Sera. I 150 I I 151 I . which I describe. Jr. Herman Porter.102.vernalproject.Art G ish. 12." Martin Luther King [r. 2002. precisely because militant white anarchists encounter many of the same problems as white pacifists. Documents /rom the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United Srares (Cambridge: South End Press.. Athens. January 1965. for instance.have not been able to connect to our movement to bring justice to all people of Latin America-which includes millions of people of color. "Why Nonviolence? Introduction to Theory and Strategy.David Cortright.. Bob Irwin and Gordon Faison. in Ward Churchill. 7. 1 knew quite a bit about Martin Luther King Jr. and focused on oppression occurring abroad while missing. and Baxter Smith in The Assassination of Malcolm X (New York: Pathfinder Press. The dynamic is similar to the one created by pacifism. the fact that the civil rights movement is stillcontinuing at home). 20. Belinda Robnett. We Want Freedom. 137-161. 184. December 2003. I graduated high school knowing little about Malcolm X. FaLse Nationalism. 1995).html." The Nation. a figure to the civil rights and black liberation movements as King. Rev. 1990). they were co-opting King's legacyand would probably offend and alienate black people (given that the organization was predominantly white. but it is by no means the only one.PETER GELDERLOOS I:NDNOTfS symbolism). 5. Malcolm X. Post Colonial Anarchism (Oakland: Jailbreak Press. Tani and Sera. July 10. Abu-Jamal. 1976).. 1997). The white peaceveteran responded in an extremely condescending and insulting way to the criticism. WI . my political education in progressive white circles failed to correct either the white-out of Malcolm X or the misleading hagiography of King. ed. 24. 106. 22. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King. see George Breitman. 2004).324. For more of Malcolm X's then-crucial analysis. 23. org/OPapers/WhyNV/WhyNonviolence l.Abu-Jamal. "A Testament of Hope" in James Melvin Washington. FaLse Nationalism.. White's book is worth a read. February 18. When nothing is done to alleviate their plight.com/arts-entertainment/features/ mlk/index. 8. Playboy. White primarily addresseswhite anarchists' frequent tendency to shun national liberation movements for not conforming to a particular anarchist ideology. http://www. 11. Dr. This sentiment. The COINTELPRO Papers. To be fair. despite being interested in history and taking advanced placement US history classes throughout my years in some of the better public schools in the nation. (San Francisco. Darren Parker." 4.. have not preached from their pulpit . e-mail. interview by Alex Haley. 1978. 60-62. Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History (Maryknoll. have not taught when they have learned. but it is left to white pacifists to explain the meaning and implementation of nonviolent strategies. 16. 262. "The Power of Nonviolence. downplayed race in its analysis.com/doc/20020218/cortright. Quotes from white organizers at the time.This article attributes a one-word quote to Cesar Chavez. and both are more functions of whiteness than any particular ideology.

Agentsof Repression. 28. In the same essay. 1971). 2004. 207. Agents of Repression. Reflecting her academic status (as a sociology professor in the University of California system). Gilbert. 188. He wrote." in Revolutionary Nonviolence: Essays by David Dellinger (New York: Anchor. E-mail to author. No Surrender: Writings from an Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoner (Montreal: Abraham Guillen Press. equates the abandonment of nonviolence with machismo. e-mail. We Want Freedom. international Food Not Bombs listserv. after all. In one recent example. This same activist paternalistically rewrote the history of black liberation to declare that the Black Panthers did not advocate violence. but only because they were prepared with a large team of sharpshooters ready I 152 I I 153 I . But this is not quite the same thing as what activistsof color face within the US. 37. October 2004. 31. Abu-Jamal. . 26. 41. Pacifism as Pathology. or legitimate activists who did. July 10. a member of the nonviolent group SOA Watch (which attracts support from a range of groups. 2003.PETER GELDERLOOS ENDNOTES 25. 60-61." 2. from progressives to anarchists) suggested on an e-mail list that because police had been dealing with the annual demonstration outside Fort Benning in Georgia more aggressively in recent years. They encouraged a hostage-taking at the Marin County courthouse. October 2004.com/locaV109590_peacemovement21. How Long? 184. the group should move the demonstration into some public place awayfrom the military base to avoid confrontation. 30.2006.22-23. much easier to have a martyr complex for oneself than for one's family (which is not to say that all of these activists were motivated by such a complex. "The Black Rebellions. http://seatrlepi. for the peace campaign to re-evaluate its tactics. it's time. Churchill and Vander Wall. . e-mail. 34. their families. 94. 266. Relationships are at the core of peacemaking. 'Us' has a better chance for achieving negotiable (nonviolent) solutions and can lead ultimately to a culture of peace. How Long? 183). Belinda Robnett points out that by becoming more militant and adopting a Black Power ideology. Our Enemies in Blue (Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press. David Dellinger. In the same e-mail. Kristian Williams.~ 01 3. in my opinion. in fact.~' :~ . Ibid. The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press. confuse militancy with machismo. Robnett.. 1963). It is. she blurs the line between FBI-paid provocateurs advocating sexism within the movement (for example. 2004). though I have certainly met a fewwho cash in that risk to claim that they have experienced oppression rivaling that felt by people of color). 36. "Peace Movement Could Find Itself Fighting Over Tactics. it seems that the FBI and police instigated the entire plot in an attempt to assassinate the most militant California Panthers. Ron Karenga) and legitimate activists advocating increased militancy. r.i! i/ I ~ } I ~ J. Alice Woldt.86.~. 64. 94-99. 27. flyers being passed out by the thousands at the protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention claimed that anyone advocating violence was likely a police agent. Whether Sun Tzu would have agreed with his theories' being used in an argument for the efficacy of pacifism is questionable. 76. he quoted from Sun Tzu's Art of War to bolster his case and improve his tactical sophistication." This loss of mainstream funding led in part to the collapse of the organization (Robnett. previously nonviolent groups such as SNCC "led liberal financial supporters [presumably mostly white] to stop contributing. E-mail to author. "Wherever polarization takes place. quoted in Chris McGann. 38. David Gilbert." -I. 32.nwsource. 2004). 23. however. 2006. 39. Darren Parker.87. 29..77." Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Churchill. 33. 'We' and 'Them' can lead ultimately to war. Ibid.shtml. February 21. April 20. 35. Some of the most dedicated nonviolent activists in the US have faced torture and murder in the course of Latin American solidarity work. and their communities. CHAPrER THREE-NONVIOLENCE IS STATIST 1. Dellinger admits that "there are occasions when those who act nonviolently themselves must become reluctant allies or critical supporters of those who resort to violence. On February 9. but she neglects to mention that Davis was highly influential in advocating militant struggle. She also mentions that Angela Davis complained about being criticized by militant black nationalists "for doing a 'man's job'" (Robnett. 40.186). given that these white activists have faced violence in a situation they sought out rather than one imposed on them.. Robnett also seems to neglect mentioning how problematic it is when groups with such radical agendas as racial equality are not self-sustaining and instead rely on the support of the federal government and white donors. Keith McHenry. No Surrender. Churchill and Vander Wall. In the case of Jonathan Jackson. Frantz Fanon.

6. and "The SHAC 7. August 17.' Mayor Bloomberg Says. 2003).pdf. 1983. The search on Filiberro Ojeda Rios. Ibid. 17." Democracy Now. 1995). Churchill and Vander Wall. jJ. 4. see the "September 30 th Newshriefs" (2005) and "February 28 th Newsbriefs" (2006) on SignalFire. Pacifica Radio. Greg White.php). read William Blum. I searched for two phrases. There are numerous other incidents of officials being so candid. August 25.shac7. php?id=2557. 61-62. 360 (December 7." NY Newsday. At the American Legion's national convention in 2005. particularly the Wobblies (IWW. org/?section=archives&caUd= 1O&article_id= 194. 262-263. Those two websites contained considerably fewer articles on the waves of violent FBI raids against Puerto Rican independence activists occurring in February 2006 than on the revelation. and potentially violent. and a whole history of episodes involving the government's denial of free speech and other civil and human rights when they interfered with the smooth functioning of authority. January 24.org/resources/ FBImemo.htm." Democracy Now. Glenn Thrush. February 10.signalfire. to take part in such bizarre plots as obtaining nerve gas or an airplane to bomb city hall. Both events were covered by Indymedia Puerto Rico (for example. "Two ELF Members Plead Guilty to 2001 Arson. charge that has been leveled against many) will not keep anyone safe. When they would not. 5. William Cran. Washington." Frontline.org/article. During and after World War I. as revealed by ACLU investigations early in 2006.com/case. 2006. FBI Intelligence Bulletin No." Asheville Global Report. a group within the Puerto Rican independence movement. who was assassinated by the FBI on September 23. Agents of Repression. Industrial Workers of the World). Available online at http://www.agrnews. org/?section=archives&caUd=48&article_id= 1296." Asheville Global Report. tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans marched in San Juan to protest the killing. 364." from the Alien and Sedition Acts of the 18th century to the Espionage Act of World War I 154 I I 155 I . 2006. in Centralia. they castrated and lynched Wesley Everest of the IWW. search of the archives of two leftist. Two good books about the COINTELPRO repression ate Churchill and Vander Wall's Agents of Repression and Abu-Jamal's We Want Freedom. 9. revealed the predicted disparity. "88 Seconds in Greensboro. no. 2005. 12. We Want Freedom. 11. 2006. The Wretched of the Earth. 2005): http://www. 16. the American Legion was an important paramilitary force in helping the government repress anti-war activists and labor organizers. see "Punished for Pacifism. 404 (October 12. 8. 14. whom he had infiltrated. See. A May 3.unitedforpeace. www. termed the "Green Scare.agrnews." Indymedia Puerto Rico. 13. Abu-Jamal. brought up 23 articles on Common Dreams and five on AlterNet. For coverage of the spying on the white peace activists. one of the targets of a relatively nonintrusive campaign through which the FBI surveilled peace groups. that the FBI in Texas was spying on the predominantly white group Food Not Bombs as part of its counterterrorism activities. "Fuerza Bruta Imperialista Allana Hogar de Cornpanera. "American Legion Declares War on Peace Movement." http://www. Militantes Boricuas le Dan 10 Suyo. 2004. Common Dreams and AlterNet. This includes legislated restrictions of "free speech. Commenting on the protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention in NYC. FBI informer William O'Neal encouraged the Illinois Panthers. On similar repression abroad. PBS. March 15. the FBI went ahead and assassinated Panther leadet Fred Hampton anyway. http://pr. Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Protest a 'Privilege. a former leader of the Macheteros. Pacifica Radio. J t ~ 15. Brian Evans. publicized at about the same time. The repression of the ELF. the 3-million-strong organization voted to use whatever means necessary to end "public protest" and ensure "the united backing" of the US population for the War on Terror. the "Thomas Merton Center" and "Filiberto Ojeda Rios. CMI­ PR. Yet "not taking the bait" (this phrase is used as though all advocates of militancy are provocateurs-a dangerous.signalfire.indymedia. Maine: Common Courage Press." The first search for the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice. http://www. 7. Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions sinceWorld War II (Monroe. no. Fanon.PETI'R GELDERLOOS ENDNOlB to neutralize the militants. for example. 10. Although few people on the mainland showed any concern. org. In 1919. brought up one article on Common Dreams and zero on AherNet. 2006): http://www. 89 (October IS. For covetage of the FBI assassination and subsequent raids in Puerto Rico. Mayor Bloomberg called free speech a privilege that can be taken away if abused.2005. nonmilitant independent-media websites. "US Military Planting Stories in Iraqi Newspapers." and the imprisonment of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) activists were widely reported in radical and environmental media.org/news/2006/02/13197.

Restorative Justice: Healing the Foundations of Our Everyday Lives (Monsey. November 20-21. Martin's Press. dealing also with the violence of women. Also. December 3. Churchill and Vander Wall. an impulsive displacement of abuse aimed at children and others lower in the social hierarchy. accepting two gender categories as natural. New York Is Offering Discounts. and b) viewing violence as an immoral. For more on restorative justice. Landstreicher recommends Albania: Laboratory of Subversion (London: Elephant Editions. 1999. rather. 58 (Fall-Winter 2004): 56.or the emergency powers of FEMA and other agencies. :1 'i. Our Enemies in Blue. and nonviolent privileged people benefit from.com. "The Power of Nonviolence. write to theresonlynow@hotmail. a "needs-based" form of dealing with social harm through healing and reconciliation (thus. http://www.9. Representations of Gender from Prehistory to Present (New York: St. 2003 (Decentralized publication and distribution. Fanon.I! I 156 I I 157 I . 285. Protesters. 281-284." Canadian Journal of African Studies. However. though Lerner largely limits herself to a binary perspective of gender. in several books including The Will to Change: Men. it was only on the run. 2004). conscious violence directed against the agents of patriarchy. Cortright. which pacifists assume to be the only form of violence. nytimes. Batteringof Women: The Failure of Intervention and the Case for Prevention (Boulder: Westview Press. Wolfi Landstreicher. but. 14. anthropological approach. Available online at http://www. There were some minor instances of fighting back against police. Jennifer Steinhauer. 1986) has good information. For more information. NY: Willow Tree Press. 23. 2. "Just Keep It Peaceful.com/ Archives/Mirrors/Class_AgainscClass/albania. the pretension that pacifists can justifiably condemn the violence of oppressed people with whom they might otherwise ally themselves is both silly and hypocritical. Anarchists had internalized the idea that only police could initiate violence. The Wretched of the Earth. CHAPTER fOUR-NONVIOLENCE IS PATRIARCHAL 1. see The Miami Mode!: A Guide to the Events Surrounding the FTAA Ministerial in Miami. 2. Transgender Warriors). 19. "New Protests as Time Runs Out for WTO. (1972): 211-219. the violence of oppression. And while all . Interesting information correcting this omission can be found in Moira Donald and Linda Hurcombe. so if they did fight. Ibid. 27." The Herald (Glasgow). 20. see Judith Van Allen.com/2004/08/18/nyregion/18buttons. The obvious counterarguments are that a) equating self-defense with misogyny or racism hardly amounts to a moral stance. The two following quotes in the paragraph are from the same page. 2001). no. "The Power of Nonviolence. ~ 3. chosen activity is simplistic and inaccurate. which is the creation of two rigid gender categories. I highly recommend the works of bell hooks." 26. especially with regard to the traumatizing effects on many protestors. 2003).PETER GflDERLOOS ENDNOlB I. "Why Nonviolence?" 7. see Williams. "'Sitting on a Man. and Love (New York: Atria Books. Thus. "Autonomous Self-Organization and Anarchist Intervention. August 18. For more on patriarchy. from a historical. To read more on the evolution of the state's view of social control. and are thus complicit in. Irwin and Faison. 2004. This is one example of a true cycle of violence. 2000). For a good compilation of information on the anti-FTAA protests in Miami. and discretionary activities such as the surveillance and neutralization activities of the FBI under COINTELPRO or the USA PATRIOT Act. 21." New York Times. 4. 18. 25. the women's violence that hooks discusses is not a political." Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed. bell hooks presents a more complex analysis. eds. The latter strategy has been applied successfully by numerous anti­ authoritarian societies throughout history. 28. institutional powers such as the ability of governors or the president to declare martial law. Allan Dowd. Submitting to the violence of oppression is at least as repugnant as killing one's oppressors (if our morality requires us to view killing enslavers as repugnant). 29. see Larry Tifft. endpage. 1999)... 1993) and Dennis Sullivan and Larry Tifft. Cortright.' Colonialism and the Lost Political Institutions of Igbo Women. For that example. but it was all in retreat. 24. and thus missing the first and most important step in the creation of patriarchy. vol. as well as Kate Bornstein (for example./. a concept of justice suited for dealing with the many "crimes" that are rooted in patriarchy). Agents of Repression. 124. Gerda Lerner's The Creation of Patriarchy (New York: Oxford University Press.html. 22.html?ex=1250481600& en =fab5ec7c870bb 73a&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland. Gender Outlaw) and Leslie Feinberg (for example. Masculinity." I came across this article as a photocopy distributed and praised by a self-identified anarchist pacifist. Some might argue that a revolutionary movement that was misogynistic or racist could not use the right of self-determination as an excuse. including the Igbo of present­ day Nigeria.

Cortright. Laina Tanglewood. 6. Armies cannot be. 13. To be more specific. Robnett. However. 20. Daniels recommends Martha McCaughey. specific rapes would be prevented. 161. "Against the Masculinization of Militancy. 1997). 15. nonviolent ways. revolutionary activists argue that all violent hierarchies are held together by systematic deployments of downward violence. have successive ramifications as people maladaptively react to the trauma of the initial violence). 11. for another example. Revolutionary activity will.. I 11I1 Iii! i. which is the greatest purveyor of violence. on the other hand. Ibid. 2001)." are common pacifist slogans that can be found on at least a couple of placards at any major peace protest in the US. is an admission that the external forces (that is. Bayard Rustin: The Troubles I've Seen (New York: HarperCollins Publishers. people will still be traumatized. Ibid. Robnett. and other oppressed groups are somehow too fragile to participate in violent revolution. December 2003. The Demon Lover: On the Sexuality of Terrorism (New York: W. will still have authoritarian and patriarchal viewpoints. From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter (New York: Pantheon Books. but individual problems that are not structurally reinforced can be addressed in cooperative.'. Full text available at http://www. 9. pacifist self-improvement tries to be a replacement. people whose strategy relies on the formation of parties or similar centralized organizations. 159. 10. and interest of their own. "Be the change you wish to see in the world" or "Embody the change. But revolutionary activists of today demonstrate a marked trend away from political parties. also have an interest in muting self-criticism. The staid pacifist dictum that "change must come from within" is not to be confused with self-criticism. September 2004. ~ t i '~ ::1111 ~ I 158 I I 159 I . Norton. Ibid. and of patriarchal structures. Abu-Jamal. result in increased state repression. such a philosophy only incapacitates people from challenging the system and fighting structural oppressions.. Thus. 17. as a barrier to rebellion and other collective action against oppression. We Want Freedom. 12. hrml. How Long? 87. whether revolutionary or pacifist. 5. the originators of which should and must be incapacitated. e-mail. 16. How Long? 93-96. they do so because the white supremacist system requires it and because they are paid to. Sue Daniels. but that is an obstacle that must be surpassed in the destruction of the state.95. evenly originating from and affecting people who are equal in power and responsibility. and future rapes would be discouraged. The Will to Win! Women and Self-Defense is an anonymous pamphlet distributed by Jacksonville Anarchist Black Cross (4204 Herschel Street. 19. but suggests that militancy itself is macho. April 2002). unions. For more on women's self­ defense. people of color. Jacksonville. The story of Bayard Rustin's having to leave the SCLC because Rustin was gay can be found in Jervis Andersen. The self-improvement of anti-oppression activists. 7. FL 32210). and other organizations that develop an ego. and that women. urban blacks and Latinos who carry out guerrilla attacks against police would not encourage a cycle of police violence.i" . of capitalism." 14. 1997) and in David Dellinger. makes valid criticisms against machismo in white anarchist circles. the trauma of past rapes would be exorcised in a constructive and empowering way. orthodoxy.org/rants/corpse_last. of course. Real Knockouts: The Physical Feminism of Women's Self-Defense (New York: New York University Press. "The Power of Nonviolence. 8. Personal e-mail to author. it is analogous to the Christian notion of sin.. 1993). it is an impotent form of self­ improvement that pretends social oppressions are the result of widespread personality failures that can be overcome without the removal of external forces. Robin Morgan. Or. The world is not a level playing field on which violence rebounds consistently.W. men would be denied the option of raping with impunity.infoshop.." quoted in Ashen Ruins. if women organized collectively to forcefully attack and oppose rapists. dealing with the effects is a fitting complement to fighting the causes. 1989). 18. Police do not kill people of color because they have been traumatized by past violence. For example. The Rock Block Collective's pamphlet. #20. Functionally. In the few instances that the "change from within" principle means more than a simple commitment to nonviolence. Against the Corpse Machine: Defininga Post-Leftist Anarchist Critique of Violence (Decentralized publication and distribution. the structures of oppression) influence even those who fight against them. Stick it to the Manarchy (Decentralized publication and distribution. After the destruction of the state.PETER GflDERLOOS ENDNOTES traumatic forms of violence cycle (that is. 166. Rather than act as a complement.1 f .

Dark Star Collective (Edinburgh: AKPress. see Tani and Sera.. 28. "Interview with Rote Zora.org/ww/1998/sylvia0702. Ibid." in Quiet Rumours.html (accessed October 18. 2002). 2001. 2 (summer 2006).. ed. 1998. "Feminism and Nonviolence: A Relational Model. but this glorification of capitulation certainly arises logically from their position. Leslie Feinberg. 1989). 1998) and Noam Chomsky. "Feminism and Nonviolence Discussion. something that is "gender­ essentializing" assumes that gender is not a social construct or even a useful though imperfect division. CHAPTER FIVE-NONVIOLENCE ISTACTICAllY &' SlRATEGICAllY INPERlOR 1. For the sexism of the Weather Underground.org) probably contains the most comprehensive documentation of state repression of I III I II' '. 30.1. in which the corporate owner was the proxy repressor for the state.indymedia. 2. Julieta Paredes. 2005). Dark Star Collective. 3. 26.PEm Gl'LDERLCXlS 21.org!NewsAndEvents/ upload/nonviolence%20and%20relational%20feminism%20Memphis I 160 I I 161 I . Necessary Illusions (Boston: South End Press. which they denounced wholesale as bourgeois rather than embracing its radical edges. 26." Earth First! Journal. 2006 and Emily Pyle. 4. Stephen Bender provides this extract from Bernays's book in his article "Propaganda. 89. Dark Star Collective.1 . III-II2. Indymedia has been a primary target for this repression. 24. Ibid. 6. 23. False Nationalism. even praising the innate pacifism of "devout Hindu wives. and the Not-So-New Dark Age.org/0202/gender. Public Relations. S." liP. 2006). 25. including young environmentalists and old peace activists.pdf#search=%22feminist%20nonviolence%22. Flinders. For articles detailing individual cases of government repression of these radio stations see: "Pirate Radio Station Back On San Diego Airwaves. "Strike One to Educate One Hundred": The Rise of the Red Brigades in Italy in the 1960s-1970s (Chicago: Seeds Beneath the Snow. and Dan Berger. http:// www. f I. Ibid. "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation. no.1 27." Workers Worla. (Toronto: Between The Lines. There is also the well­ known fight between KPFA and Pacifica Radio. all obviously centered around concerns of US hegemony: the invasion was poorly prepared. CA: AK Press. a number of CIA officials and Pentagon brass began defecting. "Nonviolence: Does Gender Matter?" Peace Power: Journal of Nonviotenee and Conflict Transformation. Yael. 29.218. see Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman. For those unfamiliar with the term. 1986). The archive of the central Indymedia site (www. 33. July 2. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon Books. leading to an expansion of what is considered "pirate"). winter 2006: 25. July-August 2003: 51.htm. http://www.. 22. I do not know if they all got the idea from a similar source or if they came up with it independently. publicly making statements that can be divided into three themes. 34." in Quiet Rumours: An Anarcha·Feminist Reader.gandhiinstitute. "Anna Mae Haunts the FBI." February and March 1998. ed.women/threads/disc-nonviolence.NDNOTES %202004. Ann Hansen. 31.' in Quiet Rumours. June 22. or it is stretching our military to a breaking point." 32.org/. 471." The Gandhi Institute. For the Red Brigades' opposition to feminism. 36. see Chris Aronson Beck et aI. January 6. Anarchist Portraits(Princeton: Princeton University Press. 102. For more on the propaganda theory of media. 1988). Carol Flinders. Emma Goldman. Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity (Oakland. http://www. it is hurting our image abroad.h-net." Infoshop News. Patrizia Longo. 2. Anyone familiar with independent media should know of several examples of both independent and pirate radio stations' being shut down by the FCC (as well as federal criminalization of independent radio in the last few years. 2002). vol. 105.calpeacepower. Flinders uses this exact example of Gandhi. Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla. Paul Avrich. ed. Ibid." The Austin Chronicle. "An Interview with Mujeres Creando.. "Leslie Feinberg Interviews Sylvia Rivera. "Nonviolence: Does Gender Matter?" 35. http://www. "The Death and Life of Free Radio. I have encountered this same formulation from at least three different nonviolent activists.workers. but a set of inherent categories with unchanging and even deterministic essences.php. As the Iraqi insurgency grew in the months after President Bush declared major combat operations over.

they do draw a line beyond which they will not let us pass without a fight. notably in Argentina. 62. To accomplish this. I do not wish to porttay repression as an automatic thing. Rick Rowley. t !. Unlike the state socialist media of the USSR. John Tutino. "Argentine Self-Management. Beck er aI. anarchist webmaster of the successful revolutionary site Raise the Fist. Ian Traynor. 7 (October/November 2002): http://www. 16. 9. even show up at their offices and fill out a form now and then." ZNet. allow official state representatives to keep their dignity.~ I 162 I I 163 I . 2005)." 190-193. The end result is the same as when they were more closely aligned with Washington: control. and Michael Albert. The Russian Anarchists (Oakland: AK Press. which enjoyed little credibility among its own cynical population. signalfire. Anarchist and. and. The federal government shut down his website. "Strike One to III I II Educate One Hundred. leftturn. People outside the movement need little convincing that such a protest is irrelevant to them. ignore them" (64). in addition to creating alternatives in the form of "international institutions" and "local and regional forms of self­ governance. Paul Avrich. not coincidentally.. they are dealing with governments that have challenged the "Washington Consensus" and. corporate media must be a total media system that enjoys the illusion of being above political propaganda. http://www.cfm?SectionID=26&1temID=9042. he offers the vague examples of a couple of societies in Madagascar still dominated and exploited by neocolonial regimes as evidence that this pseudostrategy could somehow work. he is on probation and prohibited from using the internet. Penny McCall-Howard.co. In the US." Guardian UK. agreed to stop sending soldiers and officers to the SOA. they choose to contain it rather than roll it back.aspx?id=308&type=M. November 3. Sometimes the authorities do not notice something like an anarchist community center. 18. 10. The Wretched of the Earth. 2000) is flagrant in the reckless optimism with which it assumes that the dissemination of simple ideas can change society." available on www. i III ill '. 12. 17. they will be inclined to look elsewhere and to question what else the media is hiding. From Insurrection to Rello!ution in Mexico: Socia! Bases of Agrarian Violence. But if people on their way to work see a riot.00.. thus. 15.org. "US Campaign Behind the Turmoil in Kiev. 2005. but otherwise. Fanon. no. 13. to accomplish their objectives. By combining education with militant tactics. nothing is amiss. by methods including suppressing dissident media and killing protestors. Curiously. http://www. 61. news editors can pretend they are responding to the demands of their audience.html." we should deprive states of their substance by removing "their capacity to inspire terror" (63). Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press. academic David Graeber suggests that. David Graeber. otherwise impoverished people were able to buy printing presses and reach a mass audience with anarchist ideas. "The Fourth World War: A Review.org/content/showarticle. 7. 2003). Several Left-leaning governments in South America. Specifically. 2004.1 '~1 If.PETCR GELDERLOOS ENDNOTES various Indymedia sites across the globe. More recently. 1986). Also see my critique of this film. So if people on their way to work see a peaceful protest but hear nothing of that peaceful protest on the news. 2004). November 26. However. which are coercive institutions. But hard or soft. Sherman Austin. It would also be useful to note that in some of these cases. Kalle Lasn's Culture Jam (New York: Quill. and Argentina. more often. SOAW has finally made some headway by working with Latin American regimes. 44-48. Uruguay. 14. "Argentina's Factories: Now Producing Revolution. 8. Because these governments have arisen from the authoritarian Left they have co-opted and fragmented rebellion. or find out that a bomb has exploded outside a bank.6. these governments have all been active in stomping on popular movements. zmag.org/Articles/Viewer. One of the reasons the corporate democratic system is a more effective totalitarian model than the one-party authoritarian state is that it has to respond to emergencies rather than ignore them. This is another example of pacifists having to rely on governments. namely Venezuela.guardian. thus. and they can find no references to these occurrences in the mainstream media." Left Tum. As of this writing. have less interest in getting their troops trained by the US. was imprisoned for one year on bogus charges. he suggests that we "pretend nothing has changed.uk/international/ story/0"I360080. 11. The Fourth World War (Big Noise.Russian anarchists around the time of the 1905 revolution funded their massive propaganda drives and agitationalleafletting with expropriations­ armed robberies of the owning class. 1750-1940 (Princeton: Princeton University Press. militant social movements played a major role in toppling the prior US-aligned administtations and allowing the election of Leftist governments.

under this tremendous pressure. Ibid. 82 percent of Iraqis said they "strongly oppose" the presence of occupation troops. Our Enemies in Blue. :1 37.. The strong possibility exists that these bombings are orchestrated by the occupiers. ISDELUDED 1. I wrote more on the possibility of US involvement in sectarian killings in "An Anarchist Critique of the Iraq War. and.. no. http:// www. Anything other than nonviolence is portrayed to be the result of "fear and anger . Martin Oppenheimer. according to a secret British military poll that was leaked to the press." available on www. However. Washington.html.agmews. 1920-21 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 213." I 164 I I 165 I . Ibid.. org/ngos/advocacy/ protest!iraq/2004/0513poll. George W. Paul Avrich.. Thunder in the Mountains: The West Virginia Mine War. Quoted in Fifth Estate. 21. CHAPrER SIX-NONVIOLENCE. no." Fifth Estate.PEI1'R Gfll)!'RLOOS ENDNOTES 19. Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 88 percent ofSunnis in Iraq and 41 percent of Shiites admit that they approve of attacks on US-led forces(Editor& Publisher.. a longtime environmental and indigenous activist and former ELF prisoner. Lon Savage. September 20. 29. Ricks. 165. JH.Williams." Fifth Estate. no. "Anarchist Direct Actions: A Challenge for Law Enforcement. and it is to these groups that I refer. 1999). Ibid. JH. DC. 28 (2005): 219. Ibid. "Anarchist Direct Actions.htm. It is possible that. most Iraqi resistance groups have taken a position against killing civilians. Though they were influenced by Galleani's brand of anarchism. no. 23. Borum and Tilby. Rodney Coronado. Introduction. At the time of this writing. \ I f. more than a dozen alleged members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) have been arrested after the FBI infiltrated the radical environmental movement. The same percentage reported that they wanted US troops out of their country in a May 2004 poll taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority (Thomas E. 1991). "Half ofIraqis Back Attacks on US. 34. Ibid." Washington Post (May 13. 209. They have been threatened with life sentences for simple arsons.globalpolicy. they did not appoint him leader or actually name themselves after him. United States Capitol.t 32. "Internal conflicts are another major source of vulnerability within the movement. 26. because Western media coverage would have us believe the only thing going on is the sectarian bombing of civilians. 211. "World War 1: The Chicago Trial. 147. The Galleanists were a group of anarchists centered around a paper published by Luigi Galleani. Suffice it to say.. 24. "World War 1:The Chicago Trial. 39. 2006]: http://www. 153. 28. 370 (fall 2005): 34. JH. Paul Avrich. 141-142. 38. 22." 24. 31." Randy Borum and Chuck Tilbv. many have agreed to snitch for the government. 27. though from our current vantage we really cannot know what is going on in the resistance. 33." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. Six activists with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC). 370 (fall 2005): 22. a group that waged a successful and aggressive boycott against a company that tested on animals. The Steps of Nonviolence (New York: The Fellowship of Reconciliation. 25. "82 Percent of Iraqis Oppose US Occupation. was just sent back to prison merely for giving a workshop that encouraged radical environmentalism and included information about how he built the incendiary device used in the attack for which he was already imprisoned. Ibid. no. Williams. 1969). 201. Sacco and Vanzetti: The Anarchist Background.. Michael Nagler..org. The label "Galleanist" is primarily one of convenience. Bush. 207. 20. 1990)." 220.org/?section=archives&cac id=13&section_id=lO&briefs=true).gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8. 36. The Urban Guerrilla (Chicago: Quadrangle Books.potentially damaging emotions. 2001). Our Enemies in Blue. "Address to a Joint Session of Congress" (speech. 2004): http://www. 369 [February 9-15.. were charged in March 2006 under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and recently imprisoned for several years. "Sabotage. 30." reprinted in Asheville Global Report. As of] anuary 2006. In August 2005. 127. the actual percentages are higher but many did not wish to disclose their support for the insurgency to pollsters.whitehouse. these days it is hard to talk about an Iraqi resistance. 40. The police themselves salivate over such backstabbing. 35. 127.signalfire. given the climate of political repression in Iraq. 370 (fall 2005): 24. f .

8. ours). Todd Allin Morman. 1983). 72. common sense would recognize people's need to defend themselves and live free of oppression. 9. Ibid. Quoted in a video clip included in Sam Green and Bill Siegel. 6. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong. 34. Mendes­ Flohr.. in this case. 58 (Fall-Winter 2004): 44. 18. We Want Freedom. Nonviolent activists frequently rely on the media to disseminate their point." 211." Social Anarchism. Ohio. Kuwasi Balagoon. 2004." Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed." but the editor changed it. 10. 5. 103-106. 2001). or property damage. Houser submitted his article to the Athens News in preparation for the coming North American Anarchist Conference. Though both actions have similar results. Tani and Sera. A third possible definition might try to draw a line. "Anarchist Direct Actions.php?action=viewarticle&secti on=archives&story_id= 17497. or proactively engage in illegal activity such as vandalism. The Origin of the Palestine·Israel Conflict. Ibid. If we lived in a needs­ based political economy.. 249-251. 12. 1990).. "The Meaning of Tiananmen. I won't begrudge anyone the use of any trial strategy she deems appropriate. "Revolutionary Violence and the Future Anarchist Order. director/ producer.com/index. 105. 7. 17. when they certainly had an opportunity to cause such destruction. Burt Green. no. George Jackson. "Active resistance occurs when activists use force against the police . 30. 3m ed. r ENDNOTES 15. 4. an activist on a listserv for the supposedly radical anti-authoritarian group Food Not Bombs posted ~ i \ I 166 I I 167 I . Fanon. Judith Kohler. 16. Abu-Jamal. 23. based on common sense. "Violence/Nonviolence" panel discussion." http://athensnews. 11. The authors. In true pacifist form. not to punk fashion blocs that wear all black but in the end act passively. 38 (2005): 30-38. Agents of Repression. 2003. 28. In such a society (for example. False Nationalism. A Land of Two Peoples (New York: Oxford University Press. 19. (Berkeley: Jews for Justice in the Middle East. 22." This sentence appears in Borum and Tilby. his words on Palestinian resistance are informative: "I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds. Irwin and Faison. Real black blocs are becoming less common in the US. scrawled on the many photocopies of the article he handed out. 14. through the potential candidates for violence. 306." Associated Press. The Wretched of the Earth. no. Because we live in a society in which our concept of justice is based on punishment. "Antiwar Nuns Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years. As for the flexibility of Gandhi's commitment to nonviolence." He meekly protests the fact that his article was turned by the corporate media into propaganda against the entire anarchist movement with a handwritten note. July 25. Houser. it is certainly easier to expect people not to commit the latter action (which requires taking initiative) and permit them to commit the former action (which is just going along with the flow). 21. 2006. common sense recognizes paying taxes (to an imperialist state) to be nonviolent. August 14. The Weather Underground (The Free History Project. the nuns' argument truthfully reflects the fact that they did not cause any real. Blood In My Eye (Baltimore: Black Classics Press. sabotage. The Wretched of the Earth. 35. which is to say that the behavior of just people is the avoidance of transgression. For another example: On January 31. include sir-ins and the like as passive resistance. I am referring to the black bloc as a militant tactic. Fanon. thus. 2003). Churchill and Vander Wall. The authors cite Martin Buber and Paul R.. stating that his original title was "Anarchism and Violence. A Soldier's Story: Writings ofa Revolutionary New Afrikan Anarchist (Montreal: Solidarity. I have already mentioned multiple examples involving protests." Jews for Justice in the Middle East. pacifism really is passivism because not committing violence really has more to do with avoiding culpability than with taking responsibility. 20. revolutionary action toward the goal of a society in which everyone could achieve their needs could not be considered violent. "Domestic Anarchist Movement Increasingly Espouses Violence. Spruce Houser. "Why Nonviolence?" 3. Ibid. 2001).This iswhat academic anarchist Howard Ehrlich advised in his keynote address to the North American Anarchist Convergence in Athens. Houser is a self-proclaimed anarchist and pacifist. in an attempt to bolster pacifism by turning local public opinion against the "violent anarchists. but.PElrR GEIDERLOOS 2. physical destruction to the missile facility. one a professor and one a former police chief. 13. 167. while paying a contract killer is considered violent.

Afton.. no. is integrally connected to the use of disposable immigrant labor. and low-income families. air pollution caused by internal combustion engines. It is a striking historical peculiarity that allows police to enjoy broad popular support. the level of fatalities incurred as a matter of course by a car culture. forcibly converting millions of independent peasants into wage laborers. the rank­ and-file demonstrably prioritized following the leaders over their own intentions. Burton was a member of the Richmond NAACP. vol. Through negotiator Chuck Stone and the media that covered every nuance of his five-day siege. Though this particular quote is my own wording. their lives." Perry. CIiAPfERSEVEN-THE ALTERNATIVE 1. or Cuba "has led to a just society. instituting stark wage hierarchies between officers and soldiers Tsarist officers. A prime example is Stephen Salisbury and Mark Fineman. Research into aluminum production (and the concomitant of hydro-electric dam construction). home of the SOA. and this sentiment has been echoed across the globe. 29.?' The Philadelphia Inquirer. and the ability of the United States to undermine subsistence-farming cultures around the world. VA. 131. June 19. Helen Woodson and my former codefendant and cellmate Jerry Zawada come to mind as committed. The Wretched of the Earth. thus. fueling globalization with the threat and reality of starvation. from the very beginning. To confirm the prevalence of this mindset among anti-SOA pacifists. 2.. 26. 54. Eating tofu. 305. one need only attend the yearly vigil outside Fort Benning. but.Art Burton (keynote add ress. China. The suggestion was for thousands of people to Google the phrase "Impeach Bush" during his speech. 25. Supposedly. 27.. and even think of themselves as heroes. But when an off-duty FBI agent was added to the list of sniper victims. Russia." 28. The eighth paragraph begins. enough so that we cannot take seriously a moral pacifist who drives a car. 31. my acquaintances in prison were quite conservative in condemning the "DC Sniper" and even hoping that the perpetrator would get the death penalty. Fanon. AI. genetic modifications of soy and the resulting destruction of ecosystems and food cultures. 1 am judging the Leninists' motivations by the aims and actions of their leaders-as members of an authoritarian organization.. the world on the streets outside-to see more than a three-time murderer with new-found power. Bowen also forced the outside world to confront the realities of another world-a world of institutions he and thousands of other inmates in Pennsylvania perceive as oppressive and racist. Eating meat and paying taxes are perhaps self-explanatory. "We are at war.2004). Malcolm X had this to say about Gandhian notions of universal brotherhood and love: "My belief in brotherhood would never restrain me in any way from protecting myself in a society from a people whose disrespect for brotherhood makes them feel inclined to put my neck on a tree at the end of a rope. the corporate media would pick up on this factoid and begin publicizing it rather than their typical surface analysis of how well Bush presented himself in his speech. including numerous quotes from Bowen and personalizing descriptions that portray him as he speaks-the reader is thus brought into the prison right next to him. The first six paragraphs of the article are all about Joseph Bowen and his experiences in the Hole. Malcolm X: The LastSpeeches. included improving and expanding the Tsarist secret police. November 8.. people of color. Churchill. and who assist in the gentrifying of cities. no such thing occurred. "Deep Down at Graterford: [o-]o Bowen and 'The Hole. which was composed largely of ex- I 168 I I 169 I . "But Joseph Bowen also forced those negotiators-and. Todd Allin Morman begins his article "Revolutionary Violence and the Future Anarchist Order" by pointing out that none of the violent revolutions in the United States. pacifist revolutionaries. good or bad. 3. taking in the military. The Zapatistas describe the current world order as the Fourth World War. 88. 32. 70-75. Needless to say. Being nice to a cop contributes to the masochist culture of worship that allows agents of law and order to beat and murder people with impunity. For example. and to hear these preposterous claims repeated ad nauseam. and the way in which industrialized nations procure their r ENDNOTES petroleum will reveal why driving a car is a violent activity. 1981. auto-factory conditions. blocking direct barter between producers. the argument it represents comes frequently from the mouths of nonviolent activists. robbing human beings of not only their dignity. 24. Pacifism as Pathology. People United. 30. when it used to be that they were well known as scum and lackeys of the ruling class. Paying rent supports property owners who will throw a family out into the streets if they cannot make payments in time. Againstthe Corpse Machine. reconstituted as the Cheka. The aims and actions of the Leninist leadership. sometimes.PETI:R GflDERLOOS a suggestion for an action during President Bush's State of the Union address. with attendant violence levied against homeless people. a free society or even to a 'workers' paradise" (30). in the current economy. they all expressed immense satisfaction. who invest in ecocidal development and urban sprawl. Ashen Ruins.

" in Lon Savage's Thunder in the Mountains: The West Virginia Mine War. 56-57 feminists and. 34. The Unknown Revolution (Montreal: Black Rose. provided food and supplies. '\ a Abu-Jamal. 48. Borum and Tilbv. 106. and collected information on enemy positions. 85. 109-110. according to Jalil Muntaqim. or Peter Kropotkin. 102 alternative media. 110. repressing the activism and publications of anarchists and social revolutionaries. 110­ nz nonviolent. L' (newspaper). 56 co-opting of leaders of. the anarchist insurgent army led by Makhno in Ukraine could sustain effective guerrilla warfare against the immensely larger and better­ armed Red Army for so long precisely because it enjoyed a great deal of support from the peasantry. 42." or councils. 28. On the other hand. • x 5. 254-255. 131 in anti-WTO protests. Anarchy's Cossack: The Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine 1917-1921 (Oakland: AK Press. and more. though on the whole it is clear that decentralization makes radical groups harder to infiltrate and repress. 57 counterinsurgency program against. 36 in Vietnam War. 35 militant struggle of. WeAre Our Own Liberators (Montreal: Abraham Guillen Press. 1989). John Sayles. Without autonomy. 248. Anarchy's Cossack. 14 Seealso civil rights movement AIDS. seeking and accepting development loans from British and American capitalists. 1920-21 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Alexandre Skirda. 120 SeealsoAmerican Indian Movement." Randy Borum and Chuck Tilbv point out that in some cases decentralization has left anarchists isolated and more vulnerable to repression. 90 American Indian Movement (AIM). 71 Adunata dei Refrattari. 69. Frankve Malika. specific tribes American Legion. one of the more successful urban guerrilla groups in the US. centralizing. and ultimately destroying the independent workers' "soviets.DERLOOS over. Mumia. 8. 46 women in. 1921). "Anarchist Direct Actions. Mutual Aid:A Factor in Evolution (New York: Alfred A. 40. Roger White's Post Colonial Anarchism provides a number of important arguments for the right of each community and nation to autonomously identify itself and choose its method of struggle.74 arrests of. 97. The Bolshevik Myth (London: Freedom Press.34-36. 1." 203-223. See Alexander Berkman. Anarchy(London: Freedom Press. 108. 125-126 I 170 I I 171 I . r 1 N D E 4. 2002). 17. 42. 52 anarchists. coordination. 86 grassroots. "Anarchist Direct Actions. 11-12.85 Albany. 7. Nestor Makhno. and solidarity are the critical components for the survival of decentralized networks. For example. and Voline. A good history of this movement can be found in Alexandre Skirda. A good article containing thoughts on an anarchist revolutionary process similar to the one I have phrased is Wolfi Landstreicher's ''Autonomous Self-Organization and Anarchist Intervention. Skirda. 1920). see Errico Malatesta. who hid and tended wounded insurgents. 11-12 (see also black liberation movement) self-defense of. 52. For a basic introduction to these and other anarchist principles. Knopf. 105 Al-Qaida. Anarchy's Cossack. failed in large part for want of an above­ ground support structure." Also. 96-98. civil disobedience campaign. 112 African Americans. 24. bargaining and collaborating with imperialist powers at the end of World War I. 42. 24-30. 1990). there can be no freedom. 2004). Makhno. 37-38. communication. 101 Adams. 6. "Foreword. 68. Georgia. Nestor Makhno.PEITR GFl. In their article written for police strategists. 74 American Indians. 83.71 Ache people.30. 53 disarming of. the Black Liberation Army. 58-59. 39 killings of members of. 12 alternative building. 122. 2004). 72 Italian immigrant.

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