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> Anger As A Weapon, Is violence justified to promote a cause?
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NeoMarx
Jul 17 2008, 09:56 PM
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There seems to be an awful lot of talk on this forum as to whether or not ZDLR promotes violence in his music, wether as a collaborative artist, or in RATM. But I guess the question is not whether there is a promotion of violence or a general call to arms. There aren’t many people who claim to be supporters of the left who don’t see violence as a weapon and our anger as a gift for fighting the wrongs of the world.

When you take up a cause in life, the assumption is that it is something worth fighting for. For people who find themselves firmly on the leftist side of politics, violence and anger is a give-in and something we don’t like to use, but do to prove a point.

The violence is not antagonistic and is not without cause. When you stand on the frontlines of a demonstration, peaceful or otherwise, you will know what is meant by violence is a weapon. You might grab a rock and throw it towards the police or authorities and you might hit someone but is that violence justified or is it just plain violent?

I challenge anyone to watch your friends being dragged away by the police and possibly never seen again and stand there and not fight back. With so much attention focussed on whether violence is justified, try watching your parents get beaten for not sharing the same beliefs as the government of the day and tell me that grabbing that machete isn’t worth it.

Can you still say that non-violence will stop Mugabe from persecuting his people? Or that non-violence can feed the children of the world? It may not be fixed with violence, but the violence is a catalyst for change. Has anyone heard of a non-violent coup? Or a government overthrown with presents? Of course not, because anger and violence are the winds of change. Fighting back can be metaphoric just as much as practical, but the dissolution of our right to fight back how we choose is dissolution of the power of the people.
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Sarielite
Jul 24 2008, 09:46 AM
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QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 17 2008, 09:56 PM) *
There aren’t many people who claim to be supporters of the left who don’t see violence as a weapon and our anger as a gift for fighting the wrongs of the world.

I don't believe violence is an effective tool for forwarding one's point of view in most circumstances. The energy we project into the universe is reflected back upon us, any acts of violence carried out in the name of progress will leave an indelible mark upon the instigators and upon the collective unconscious. Any kind of calamity, senseless or otherwise, fundamentally alters the civilizations that act within it; the modern, western collective mindset is driven by three major calamaties of the early modern era: the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Each of these wars, some faught for the noblest of reasons, had the effect of redirecting societal consciousness into fundamentally different directions.

Anger is a natural reaction to injustice; it's difficult to come to grips with the notion that we, as actors in the universe, are nearly powerless. The predictable response is anger and frustration. Justice--true, metaphysical justice--happens slowly, if it even happens at all. To paraphrase Martin Luther King (Jr), who was paraphrasing Theodore Parker, the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Barack Obama, at an event I saw a few years ago, suggested that it's our job as a species to grab ahold of that arc and pull it as much as we can. Even then, that arc is extraordinarily long; there are few examples of any one person or one event changing that arc very much.

In other words, fighting, anger, and violence are easy. It's empowering to let the fire of righteousness take over one's spirit, but throwing oneself into the crucible to bring about one's ideology whole is dangerous and counterproductive. As I said, the energy we project is most often the energy we receive; if you project anger and violence into the universe--or even upon your fellow human--anger and violence is what you will recieve. Our violence-based society is founded on attack and counter-attack, infringement and backlash. If you attempt to listen and understand, and present a position of moral, spiritual, and intellectual integrity, you may not find immediate success, but you've done your part in bending the arc.

The one situation where violence is certainly appropriate is where the lines have been drawn and one or both sides of the binary fails to recognize the humanity of the other. Without an understanding of the commonality amongst all people--without the feeling of human solidarity that comes with humanism--it's impossible to engage in a reasonable discussion.

QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 17 2008, 09:56 PM) *
The violence is not antagonistic and is not without cause. When you stand on the frontlines of a demonstration, peaceful or otherwise, you will know what is meant by violence is a weapon. You might grab a rock and throw it towards the police or authorities and you might hit someone but is that violence justified or is it just plain violent?

How does throwing a rock achieve your goal? How does incitement of violence achieve your goal? Remember that authorities are people, they're more often than not terrified (even if they may not show or admit to it), and the more hostile their environment becomes, the less likely they are to listen and empathize. Is a message best sent with a hurled rock or a given flower?

QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 17 2008, 09:56 PM) *
Can you still say that non-violence will stop Mugabe from persecuting his people?

It has come close; the recent election in his country has destroyed what little credibility he had left. Everyone in Zimbabwe knows he isn't a legitimate ruler, according to the laws of his country. When an election comes around again, it's very likely that he'll be ejected. The whole process has been minimally violent.

QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 17 2008, 09:56 PM) *
Or that non-violence can feed the children of the world?

Non-violence is the only thing that feed everyone in the world. Warfare and the poverty it causes is the single greatest detriment to the cultivation of arable land. Sudanese inter-tribal warfare--which was caused by drought in the first place--is the primary cause of continued famine. Peaceful nations are productive nations.

QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 17 2008, 09:56 PM) *
Has anyone heard of a non-violent coup? Or a government overthrown with presents? Of course not, because anger and violence are the winds of change.

M. Ghandi overthrew the British with nonviolence; India has been relatively stable in the 50 years since. Most violently-overthrown governments can't claim that. The Dali Llama has repeatedly denounced the use of violence in the liberation of Tibet from China.


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NeoMarx
Jul 24 2008, 03:54 PM
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QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
...western collective mindset is driven by three major calamaties of the early modern era: the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II.


Read: American collective mindset.

QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
The one situation where violence is certainly appropriate is where the lines have been drawn and one or both sides of the binary fails to recognize the humanity of the other. Without an understanding of the commonality amongst all people--without the feeling of human solidarity that comes with humanism--it's impossible to engage in a reasonable discussion.


sadly this is the reality of the real world we live in. Neither side has seen the other's reasoning.

QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
How does throwing a rock achieve your goal? How does incitement of violence achieve your goal? Remember that authorities are people, they're more often than not terrified (even if they may not show or admit to it), and the more hostile their environment becomes, the less likely they are to listen and empathize. Is a message best sent with a hurled rock or a given flower?


Authorities are people who made a choice in life to be the oppressors and I have no sympathy for those who choose the wrong side and ask for forgiveness. They don't listen in the first place my friend, how can we sit around and talk when the action is the true voice?

QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
M. Ghandi overthrew the British with nonviolence; India has been relatively stable in the 50 years since.


India is presently in an ideaological war with Pakistan after the british left and created two countries. Gandhi is partly responsible for the deteriorating situation on the Indian sub-continent. Nuclear weapons indeed. Pakistan got theirs from the Iranians and India got theirs from the US.

QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
The Dali Llama has repeatedly denounced the use of violence in the liberation of Tibet from China.


The Dalai Lama is a stooge of the US government. He does their bidding against the 'red' Chinese people, don't be fooled by the presence of non-violence diatribes, he leads those monks into every battle, physically or spiritually.
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Sarielite
Jul 28 2008, 09:50 AM
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QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 24 2008, 04:54 PM) *
QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
...western collective mindset is driven by three major calamaties of the early modern era: the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II.


Read: American collective mindset.


No, the western collective mindset. The American Civil War defined the tone of early modern conflict, after which there was no return. Europe was affected by the American Civil War as much as America was affected by World War I; the ACW divested the western world of its belief that warfare was ritualistic, could be codified, or could be compartmentalized from 'regular' society. World War I stripped away any sentimentalism of sacrifice or sentimentalism for national conflict.

QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 24 2008, 04:54 PM) *
QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
The one situation where violence is certainly appropriate is where the lines have been drawn and one or both sides of the binary fails to recognize the humanity of the other. Without an understanding of the commonality amongst all people--without the feeling of human solidarity that comes with humanism--it's impossible to engage in a reasonable discussion.


sadly this is the reality of the real world we live in. Neither side has seen the other's reasoning... Authorities are people who made a choice in life to be the oppressors and I have no sympathy for those who choose the wrong side and ask for forgiveness. They don't listen in the first place my friend, how can we sit around and talk when the action is the true voice?

Recognizing someone's reasoning isn't the same thing as recognizing their humanity. Theistic and atheistic people can reasonably or unreasonably disagree on the existence of supernatural beings and still recognize that they are both human and share that experience. There are times and places where this humanist bond has broken down, but it's something that can always be repaired or created. Violence never repairs, and it never creates.

Remember that everyone is the hero in their own movie; everyone wants to do the right thing, even if it's only right for them. People who take work as security or military or police often do so because they wish to be heroes, but it's usually a reflection of their own fear and desire to maintain control--a mindset that grows out of deeply-rooted terror of disempowerment. Whenever their preconcieved notions of the things they fear are confirmed--such as the violent anarchistic crowd--they feel justified in their malice; whenever those fears are assuaged, that fear becomes muddier and less defined.

Such people--blinded by their fear and, by extension, malice--will never listen and will never bother to understand if their fears are confirmed. Every time they feel justified in a beating or using tear gas or mace, that worm of hatred finds its way deeper into their psyche. Every rock you throw makes your position harder to communicate and your desires harder to enact.

QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 24 2008, 04:54 PM) *
QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
M. Ghandi overthrew the British with nonviolence; India has been relatively stable in the 50 years since.


India is presently in an ideaological war with Pakistan after the british left and created two countries. Gandhi is partly responsible for the deteriorating situation on the Indian sub-continent. Nuclear weapons indeed. Pakistan got theirs from the Iranians and India got theirs from the US.

Gandhi was an ardent supporter of a single India and nearly killed himself with a hunger strike in an attempt to prevent violence against muslim residents of India. The man that assassinated him was an Indian who was an anti-muslim extremist who felt that India was weakened by Gandhi's attempts at reconciliation.

QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Jul 24 2008, 04:54 PM) *
QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 25 2008, 03:46 AM) *
The Dali Llama has repeatedly denounced the use of violence in the liberation of Tibet from China.

The Dalai Lama is a stooge of the US government. He does their bidding against the 'red' Chinese people, don't be fooled by the presence of non-violence diatribes, he leads those monks into every battle, physically or spiritually.

The only people I've heard take that position in ernest is the Communist Party of China, one of the most dishonest governments on the planet.


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NeoMarx
Jul 28 2008, 03:05 PM
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QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 29 2008, 03:50 AM) *
The only people I've heard take that position in ernest is the Communist Party of China, one of the most dishonest governments on the planet.


Or any other leftist-led communist country. Your view is about as American-centric as you can get. Bashing China and the communists is part of the American global mantra. I expect no less from the world's imperialist giant.

The world doesn't need police, it has America. God save us all.
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Sarielite
Jul 29 2008, 05:50 AM
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Are you denying that China's communist party is dishonest? It took them a week to admit to a massive toxic benzene spill in 2005. They reneged on their agreement with the International Olympic Committee regarding open access to the internet during the summer games.

And clearly, dishonesty is hardly the Party's worst feature. Their casual disregard for human rights when it is inconvenient is a pretty obvious failing.


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NeoMarx
Aug 5 2008, 11:00 PM
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QUOTE (Sarielite @ Jul 29 2008, 11:50 PM) *
Are you denying that China's communist party is dishonest? It took them a week to admit to a massive toxic benzene spill in 2005. They reneged on their agreement with the International Olympic Committee regarding open access to the internet during the summer games.

And clearly, dishonesty is hardly the Party's worst feature. Their casual disregard for human rights when it is inconvenient is a pretty obvious failing.


Please, divert the attention away from the US. They have never done anything wrong in the slightest. While ever attention is focussed on the enemies of the US, people don't look in their own pig sty.

Do I need to start down the path of "The world according to Milton Friedman..."? American foreign policy has driven the "West" into the ground. How does it feel to know that the world feels the same way about the US government as it does about the people? Its not your fault your government has systematically created the wrong sense of freedom.

Bash China all you want, they are a soft target of the US. Especially now during the Olympics.
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americanhardmind
Aug 6 2008, 11:28 PM
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Hello to both of you. Before I comment on the topic of violence being useful or not I'd like to briefly introduce myself and tell you why I'm here. I'm a 28 year old male born and raised in new mexico of native and spanish decent. I'm 100% american but have enough exposure to other cultures and people that I feel confident enough to get into a mix about modern ideological activism. I checked this website out a while back but was more concerned with creating my own forum at the time. That didn't work out. This past weekend I attended Lollapalooza and saw Rage for the first time. I'm a long time fan, listening to them since junior high. I was overwhelmed with Zack's passion for action through song, but also his compassion for well-being. When people around me were getting crushed, all of the band jumped toward the end of the stage to help. He called the concert to a halt three times, saying, "Let's take care of each other brothers" and "My brothers, let's take care of that sister." I fell in love with their message again because it felt real outside of all the historical controversy about band differences. They were part of an event, not just a spectacle.

So is violence justified? Yes is the simple answer, but I can see both perspectives. Let me first say, if De la Rocha believed in using actual violence, wouldn't he, rather than write songs about it? I'm not going to assume either way about him, but the proof is through action.

As for the debate, there have been very few successful non-violent campaigns in world history. Humans are animals through and through, and while I have some belief in karma, the reaction is not often simultaneous, especially at a group level. Revenge seems to be a delicate game that comes years later and in many different ways, unless its a crime of passion. I think that when it involves inadequate social conditions, such as poverty, sickness, hunger, or genocide, any discussion of violence as ineffective wastes time. Sure, reason and humanity are Truths we 'hope' for and have 'faith' in, but when we rely on conditonal statements (of right and wrong), we begin to forget what a shared natural experience really is -- not just human and philosophically Greek. It's reproductive, satiating, and protective irrelevant of ideas and concepts. If what were to keep me and my family safe and healthy was a gun to the heads of thiefs taking from my garden, what other option do I have? Should I share? Should I try to catch them in the act and reason with them? Would they give me the benefit? Should I call the police, who would not stand guard or protect it? Maybe they were stealing?

Of course, I'm missing out on the initial conditions that set up the use of violence, or necessary physical protection. Maybe one of you could answer this: when did it become necessary to defend one's resources because there wasn't enough for everyone? And I do apologize because I'm being a little one-sided and pro-violence. Honestly, I'm a pacifist, and have been so in several personally violent situations. But I consider Ghandi a hero, as was King Jr. though I find Malcolm X as intriguing and necessary. I adore the Dalai Lama's logic and wit about situations and life and consider China as terrible as the US. And just to throw this in: how long did it take the US to admit that Iraq didn't have WMDs? And who did we blame? China took responsibility, though it was latent as you mentioned.

While I may have been off point, and changed the flow of the great debate you two were having, I hope I added something. I thoroughly enjoyed reading what was written and hope it will be continued.
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SackdelaRocha
Aug 16 2008, 06:55 PM
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Violence, killing, maiming....where do you draw the line? You can sit there and get political and say the left does this, the right does that. Just as long as you serve your own purpose and beliefs...RIGHT? Self serving hypocrites is all we are. ALL of us. But what really gets me is that Zack thinks that he's different than the other selfish bastards that like to hear them selves speak. Stalinist creep! This probably wont get posted. Stalin liked to silence his rivals too. But I love the tunes.
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Sarielite
Aug 19 2008, 11:43 AM
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QUOTE (NeoMarx @ Aug 6 2008, 12:00 AM) *
Please, divert the attention away from the US. They have never done anything wrong in the slightest.

Who's diverting attention inappropriately? You brought up the subject of the Chinese communist party, I responded to it; the Chinese government is dishonest and their attempts to paint the Dalai Lama as a stooge for western interests are laughable at best. Rather than address my direct assertions about the Chinese government which you weren't willing to refute, you attack me and my intellectual credibility. I've never commented on the honesty or morality of the U.S. government, mainly because my views on it are nuanced and are better discussed in the thread regarding the best form of government. You're obviously very eloquent, so it disappoints me that you resort to using ad hominem attacks when it suits you.

QUOTE (americanhardmind @ Aug 7 2008, 12:28 AM) *
Of course, I'm missing out on the initial conditions that set up the use of violence, or necessary physical protection. Maybe one of you could answer this: when did it become necessary to defend one's resources because there wasn't enough for everyone?

It became necessary to defend resources the moment the local environment contained fewer resources than the total maximum consumption of all members of the population. There have been various attempts (each with varying levels of success) at devising methods of allocating those resources; currently, capitalism is the most common model worldwide. Prior to that was mercantilism, which was preceded by feudalism in Europe, which was preceded by Roman law, and so forth. These models proceed somewhat differently in the histories around the world, but most were subject to European imperial mercantilism in the 18th and 19th centuries, and all were subsumed by government-controlled capitalism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Every system makes a distinction between those within the consumer group and those who are not within it. Those who do not belong to a particular consumer group are often subject to violence or displacement when they infringe upon that group's resources (see illegal immigration, both in the United States and worldwide). This isn't a moral way of proceeding with things, but it's also (unsurprisingly) an effective way of accumulating wealth and prosperity among a particular consumer group. The popular theory of capitalism is that there must be wealth differentiation and any attempt at redistribution equates to increasing monetary 'entropy'--the fear is that if everyone has the same amount of wealth, wealth becomes an inadequate measure of prosperity. Of course, it's easy to loose sight of the fact that prosperity is measured by happiness, not wealth, but it makes economists really uncomfortable to measure something so unclear as happiness (which, as an aside, has been steadily going down in the United States since 1952).

QUOTE (SackdelaRocha @ Aug 16 2008, 07:55 PM) *
Violence, killing, maiming....where do you draw the line? You can sit there and get political and say the left does this, the right does that. Just as long as you serve your own purpose and beliefs...RIGHT? Self serving hypocrites is all we are. ALL of us.

It's important not to generalize about political positions. The concept of the political left and poltical right are completely fluid and, at times, contradictory. Somehow, the political right (in the United States) can contain both Jeffersonian/Classical Liberals/Libertarians and authoritarians of every stripe. Leftists construct their intellectual platform from Marx and FDR. Neither the left or right side of the political spectrum (or populist/individualist axis of the spectrum) represent the 'correct' path. Leftists like to represent themselves as 'progressives', even though the concept of objectively-defined progress is flawed and progressive projects have led to the modern cleptocratic anti-free state.

It's also important to listen carefully to what people have to say; you may not ever agree, but you may find a compromise or middle ground. Forcing someone to accept your view (with violence or other cudgeling) only leads to resentment and backlash.


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Johnny Always
Nov 19 2008, 07:46 AM
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"'They' have all the guns and money, but we have all the people." is what I try to remind myself when I want to take arms.

Violence allows the state to enforce measures beyond what the public has allowed before, and likely, those inside the system who might come to the other side also allow violence from the people to justify and follow orders against their own judgment. And perhaps the most important reason to abandon violence is that it jeopardizes the ability or even life and liberty of those operating in the non-violent civil action sector which has been the hand of most of the actual change, in at least recent history as I understand it.

I think 'This is what democracy looks like' proved much of that to me. It's still not easy for me to reject that some violence has been necessary in history, I long looked at the story of Christ as justification to bring arms against those in power because of the incident with the money changers, but now I'm under the impression that it's what allowed his opposers to finally execute him and begin persecution of his people.

Progression occurs when there is a critical mass of people who are in enough pain and have been given a new option- which may be nothing more than to stop the offending governing body, facility, etc from operating or might be a new way of thinking/acting and violence hinders the critical mass growth.

My belief in humanity is from it's history, while I believe we are the 'end generation', who will either drastically change course for this planet or see extinction, there has always been a point when the people have had enough and when the critical mass of change vs pain is reached, and perhaps that will come at a global level now that the industrialized world is meeting up with it's own consequences.

To that end, I often wonder what kind of new global unity there would be if people from different parts of the world worked together to disrupt the powers that be, eg people at a european plant walk out and strike because another arm of the plant's corporation kicked people off their land in south america, people in north america walk on the pentagon to protest the toxic burning of pollutants and the usage of iridium shells in the middle east, people in asia boycott products coming at the expense of indigenous people in africa. If the actors in those situations where personally connected to each other, there seems like there would be side effects beyond just making a stand that would potentially cause the machine to listen to the people in a new and radical way.

There is always an uprising; I believe that since we're looking at our demise on a global scale, we can unite on global scale but if violence is used during the movement, surely it will be used afterwards, and fracture the chance for some sort of new peace that has never existed before. Blue vs Red and all that kind of bullshit both nationally and globally should be discredited for what it is, the machine dividing the people to keep it from standing as one because that's the most fearsome of all, and violence has often allowed for those stories to play out.

-Always
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