The point about non-violence in activism is not that the state and corporations are non-violent, so we should be too. It is, rather, that the state and corporations are violent, very much so, and at a deeply ingrained level, with the media almost always rendering that violence invisible or normalised.
So when we, the people, in opposition to the state and corporations, are non-violent, we are holding ourselves to a higher standard than they do. We ought to remember that more. We ought to remember that when we get so angry that we flirt with notions of violent uprising, we’re simply getting near in thought to the way in which the state and corporations behave in action, constantly.
We, the people, so rarely punch up. Yet we wrack ourselves with guilt over the mere feeling that we’d like to. We twist ourselves around with debate, argument, soul-searching about “extremes” of direct action that we must not reach. We distance ourselves from – vilify even – those who take direct action beyond lines we ourselves cannot cross. Organisers of even the most passionate mass protests work extremely hard to keep them non-violent.
Yet such actions are minute, harmless, small-scale, bumbling, amateur hour, compared to that which they oppose. Meanwhile they continually, relentlessly punch down, on industrialised scale, with automated unthinking abandon. Day in, day out. Thus history can record that we’re complicit in our demise.
Gosh, that disabled protester hit a Tory with an egg, that crosses a line. Disgusting!
I don’t challenge the orthodoxy of non-violence, I’m a pacifist. But I do recognise this core imbalance and the overlooking of it. So for me, one key conclusion is this:
If we slip, we should forgive ourselves.